For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to visit Australia. Maybe it was from watching the famous Australian soap opera Neighbours as a teen and sympathising with all the teenage angst, or maybe it was the idea of a far away land. I was intrigued by the island, the natives and the vastness of the country and add to that The Sydney Opera House, The Great Barrier Reef and all the amazing coastal cities Australia has to offer, it is still very much on the top of my list. I am quite positive that these are the real reasons why I wanted to always visit Australia and not because I had a huge crush on an Australian stud. That crush went no where (though it’s a highly entertaining story if anybody wants to hear it) but thoughts of Australia have always lingered.
After I started this blog, I added even more reasons to want to visit Austraila; my amazing blogger friends. Most of the time, reading their blogs I am turned upside down and inside out; when it’s day here, it’s night there, we have summer when they are having winter. I have yet to get used to it!
The friends I have made are an exceptional set of women. There is Jasmine from the blog, Absolutely Jas. I strongly believe that if we lived in the same city, we’d be best friends and hang out at various tea and coffee places. I find more and more, from reading her posts, how much we have in common; recently I discovered our mutual dislike of ricotta cheese (because of its graininess).
Then there is superwoman Charlie, from Hotly Spiced, we also have a lot in common, she has three children and I have four. We both have to deal with a high maintenance vegetarian and an energetic eight year old with many, many questions.
Uru, from Go Bake Yourself is vibrant and vivacious, and though we are not any where close in age, she is the same age as my daughter and I can relate to a lot of what she goes through, not to mention she makes some fabulous treats and her posts are thoroughly entertaining.
Sonali from Sugar et al, is one of my newest and sweetest friends. We both have an Indian background and so, many things in common. Her brother lives in Denver so I hoping that she will visit him soon so we can meet! She has a beautiful blog with beautiful photos and show stopping, professional bakery type desserts.
I have many wonderful blogger friends but today, in honour of this Pavlova, I wanted to recognise my Aussie friends. Check out my updated Blog Roll for my other favourite blogs, this is a list that’s a work in progress, and I try to keep it updated as I make new friends. If you are missing from the list, I just haven’t added you yet, I still love you though
So, by now you would’ve realised that a Pavlova is an Australian and New Zealand invention and staple. It was named after the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova when she visited the countries back in the 1920’s. It is considered mainly a summer time dessert often being served with fresh berries and cream.
I have to admit that making this Pavlova was really a matter of necessity. After I made the tiramisu for my daughter’s 16th birthday, I had 5 egg whites left after making the zabaglione. I hate wasting egg whites, and I was racking my brains as to what to do with them.
My mothers old cook books from England always included recipes for Pavlova. I remember as a child looking at the photos and being fascinated with this crispy, crackly shell filled with fruit. When I started cooking and baking, this was always on my to do list. Today, I can tick that off!
To make it autumn themed, I decided to use pears as my fruit. Unfortunately, poached pears look a bit pale and colourless on top of an already quite white meringue shell. I wanted to add some red colour and flavour without using wine (since we don’t drink). Raspberries are perfect for adding red colour and make a pretty good sauce too.
The meringue shell recipe is from Donna Hay and I just added my recipe for the poached pears on top with a raspberry sauce on the side.
- MERINGUE BASE
- 150mL or 4 organic egg whites
- 1 cup/220g organic superfine/caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch (corn flour) sifted
- 2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
- POACHED PEAR TOPPING
- 5/6 pears, preferably Bosc, peeled, cored and halved
- 10-12 oz/285g bag frozen raspberries
- 4 cups/945mL water, may need more
- 1/2 cup sugar, more if you want it sweeter
- 1" piece of fresh ginger
- 2 cups/470mL heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks form.
- MERINGUE BASE
- Preheat the oven to 300℉/150℃
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and draw a 8"/20cm circle on the underside.
- Set aside.
- Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Add the sugar and beat until glossy and thick.
- Add the cornstarch and the vinegar and blend until just incorporated.
- Dollop the egg whites onto the parchment paper using the drawn circle as a guide.
- Make an indent in the middle to hold the filling.
- Turn down the oven to 250℉/120℃
- Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and allow the shell to cool completely in the oven.
- POACHED PEARS
- While the shell is baking, make the poached pears.
- Place the pears in a single layer in a large pan.
- Add the frozen raspberries, ginger, water and sugar.
- Mash the raspberries with the back of a spoon.
- Allow to simmer uncovered until the pears are tender and the water has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 30-40 minutes.
- You may need to add more water if the pears have not softened.
- Make sure the raspberries don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir occasionally and turn the pears to get even colour.
- Once the pears are tender, remove them from the syrup.
- Strain the liquid to remove the seeds, ginger and pulp from the berries.
- Add the syrup back into the pan and reduce more if desired and then add the pears back into the sauce to keep from drying out.
- Once the shell is cool, and right before serving, fill the shell with the whipped cream.
- Remove the pears from the syrup draining the syrup, and arrange on top carefully.
- The shell will probably give and crack in areas but it should hold.
- Serve immediately with extra syrup on the side.
- The best pears to use are the Bosc. I had to use Bartlett because I could not find any organic Bosc. To stop the Bartletts from falling apart, I took them out before they were completely tender. The Pavlova was still delicious but the pears were harder to cut. You can add more sugar if you want your syrup sweeter and you may need to top of with water if the simmering liquid evaporates before the pears are tender.
The Raspberry Poached Pear Pavlova was a hit at home. The children and the husband all thoroughly enjoyed it. The textures; creaminess of the whipped cream and soft marshmallowy insides, and the crisp meringue shell along with the sweet tart flavours of the raspberry sauce, all blended beautifully together.
So, if you haven’t tried a Pavlova before or have been intimidated by it, don’t be, it’s fairly easy and incredibly delicious. It’s also an impressive dessert for a holiday table or a special occasion.
Hope your week is going well. I am at my usual frantic pace, dropping and picking up children and in between that finding time to cook, create, shop and write. I suppose it keeps me young….maybe.