The Pavlova was made to honor Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in the 1920s. Remember that when you’re working with this recipe. It should be as light, airy, and poetic as a captivating, well-rehearsed, and well-executed ballet. The colors and the flavors in this rendition are much more modern than the classic. If the original was created for a Russian ballerina, this version might be for Martha Graham’s modern dance company. This recipe can be a little painstaking to perfect, but do try it. It’s worth all the effort.
- Yield: 150 PAVLOVAS
- 150 g 5 egg whites
- 5 g (1 tsp) white distilled vinegar (optional)
- 6 to 8 drops purple food coloring (optional)
- 1 drop black food coloring (optional)
- 70 g (1⁄3 cup) plus heaping 2 tsp granulated sugar, plus 200 g/1 cup
- 40 g (1⁄3 cup) cornstarch
- 15 g (1 tbsp) lemon juice
- 3 or 4 drops culinary lavender oil
- Set the egg whites on the counter for 1 to 2 hours so that they are at room temperature when you work with them. Preheat the oven to 175°F (80°C). If you choose to use the food coloring, in a small bowl, combine the vinegar with the purple and black food coloring. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the 70 g/1/3 cup plus heaping 2 tsp sugar with the cornstarch, using a whisk or clean fingertips to mix them together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the lemon juice to the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, as if making a French meringue.
- When the egg whites have tripled in size and are light and foamy, slowly add the remaining 200 g/1 cup sugar, whisking until evenly mixed. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whisk until the egg whites rise another 50 percent in volume and take on a light, glossy, firm texture. When the meringue has reached beautiful, firm peaks, reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and then add the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Whisk for another 30 seconds to evenly combine. Add the culinary lavender oil and, if using, gently pour in the food coloring mixture. Whisk on medium speed for 5 seconds, or until evenly combined.
- Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl of glossy meringue from the stand. Fit a piping bag with a #4 round piping tip and use a rubber spatula to load the meringue into the piping bag until it’s half full. Remove the parchment paper from the baking sheet and pipe a small dollop of meringue directly onto each corner of the baking sheet; place the parchment paper back onto the baking sheet and press down on the corners. This will hold the paper down during baking. Hold the piping bag upright and pipe 1½-in (4-cm) rounds while moving the piping bag in an upward motion. Leave 1 in (2.5 cm) between the dollops of meringue.
- Dip a clean spoon into hot water, shake off the excess and then, with the back of the spoon, create a divot in the center of each meringue round. Each meringue should look like two sloping hills with a valley in the middle. Clean the spoon well and dip it again into the hot water after every two or three meringues so that there is no meringue sticking to the spoon. Place the sheet of meringues into the oven and bake for 1 hour, rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees, and bake for another 45 minutes.
- To check doneness, pull one meringue off the parchment paper. It should pull off cleanly. If the meringues need more time, return the baking sheet to the oven and keep checking at 15-minute intervals until they come off the baking sheet easily and cleanly. After they’ve been baked, the Pavlovas can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.