I haven’t been able to participate in The Daring Kitchen’s challenge for the last couple of months, but the challenge for August is something I’ve always wanted to try. The Pavlova (essentially a giant meringue) was named in honor of the famous ballerina after a tour stop in New Zealand and Australia. Apparently there’s still controversy between New Zealand and Australia about who really came up with it, but if that’s all they have to disagree about then they’re in pretty good shape.
Usually a Pavlova is 9-10 inches around and topped with lemon curd (or some other flavor), whipped cream and fruit scattered on top. Since I knew we wouldn’t eat a whole one and didn’t want to store it, I decided to make smaller individual 3″ Pavlovas. Looking ahead next time I’ll probably make them even smaller – 1 1/2 to 2 inches round. The 3-inch delicacy was just a little too rich and sweet for one sitting. Don’t get me wrong – it was decadent and delicious, but a lot of sweet all at once!
You begin by making a caramel sauce and I chose one by Ina Garten, mainly because it didn’t call for butter and I wanted to see how caramel sauce without butter would be. It was wonderful – sweet, rich, dark brown goodness and perfect over the Pavlova.
While the caramel is cooling you make the Pavlova batter. After portioning them onto the baking sheet, swirl the homemade caramel sauce lightly into them, being careful not to mash down too hard. Here’s the “before” photo:
If you’ve made meringue cookies, then you’ll be comfortable making these. I was surprised at how easy it was, but patience is needed for making the caramel as well as the meringue. It took quite awhile to get those stiff peaks from the batter.
After you pull the Pavlova out of the oven and they’re cooled, you end up with a crunchy meringue outside, sweet caramel inside along with a chewy center. I loved these and couldn’t believe the wonderful textures. You can drizzle a little extra caramel sauce on top and that makes it even more enjoyable!
Thank you to Marcellina from The Daring Kitchen for this wonderful and tasty learning experience!
Caramel Swirl Pavlova
Creamy Caramel Sauce
****slightly adapted from Ina Garten, Food Network. Wonderful, creamy and delicious. And no butter!
1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. water
1 1/4 C. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Pour the granulated sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir in the water and pinch of salt until combined. Cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil briskly uncovered until the sugar turns a medium, chestnut brown, about 7-8 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. The mixture is extremely hot, so be aware! Watch the mixture carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to a burnt mess very quickly. Remove from the heat. Very carefully pour the cream and vanilla into the caramel, standing as far back as possible. It will bubble up quite a bit and the caramel will solidify.
Put back onto the burner and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth. If you still have some crystals after most of the sauce is smooth, pour through a sieve and into a cooling pan to remove them. Allow to cool to room temperature before applying to the Pavlova.
***Makes 6, 3 to 4″ individual Pavlova. I recommend making 12, 1 1/2 to 2″ cookies from them instead.
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 C. sugar
Homemade Caramel Sauce (recipe above) or store bought sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Refrigerate the bowl that you are going to use for the egg mixture, for at least 5 minutes. Remove bowl from refrigerator and beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Very slowly and gradually, drizzle in 1/4 C. of sugar into the egg mixture. Repeat for remaining sugar, 1/4 C. at a time, beating between each addition. Beat until glossy and stiff peaks form (be patient).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon 3″ wide mounds of the mixture on the sheet. They will expand a little, so give them room. Drizzle a little caramel sauce on top of each mound, then gently swirl with a blunt-edged knife. Leave a white edge around the cookie for that nice meringue crunch. Bake the Pavlova for 22-25 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow Pavlovas to sit in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Drizzle with additional caramel or top with very slightly sweetened homemade whipped cream and serve.
Tips and Stuff
Really be very careful with the hot caramel sauce. Make sure the saucepan is deep enough for when it bubbles up.
I use a nonstick saucepan and it works perfectly. The caramel will be about done at 350 degrees on a candy thermometer if you have one.
Be patient waiting for the stiff peaks to form on the egg mixture. Mine took 15-20 minutes on high.
You can use store-bought caramel sauce (coward), but the recipe above is soooo much better.
Next time I’ll make the meringues smaller and probably use 1/4 cup less sugar. With the caramel, they’re very sweet!
Store in a very air-tight container or serve immediately. The caramel makes the cookie a little more moist after stored overnight.