Russian Empire ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th century, Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) is widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history and was most noted as a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev.
Pavlova ‘dessert’ is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer. The dessert is believed to have been created in honor of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in 1926. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and marshmallow-like soft, light center, as light as tulle tutu Anna Pavlova wore during her performances. The dessert is pronounced ‘pævˈloʊvə or pɑːvˈloʊvə’, unlike the name of the dancer, which was ‘pɑːvləvə or pævləvə’.
The origin of Pavlova dessert has been a source of argument between New Zealand and Australia for many years. Formal research indicates New Zealand as the source. The best tasting and tallest/thickest Pavlova by far I had was at a hangi /feast at the Tamaki Heritage Experience in Tauranga, New Zealand!
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) may have settled a long-running argument between Australia and New Zealand over who invented the pavlova. OED ruled, “Pavlova created in New Zealand not Australia”!
The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.
Essential ingredients = egg whites, caster sugar, cornstarch and white vinegar.
Enhancing ingredients = a pinch of salt and vanilla essence
When the meringue is baked and cooled, it is topped with whip-cream and soft fruits, i.e. passion fruit, mango, berries, kiwi, peach, pineapple, fruit compote, etc. If sliced banana is used, toss it in lemon juice to avoid from browning.
The major difference between the Pavlova and a large meringue is the addition of corn flour, which results in the Pavlova having a crisp/crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist marshmallow-like center, unlike meringue which is usually solid throughout. The consistency also makes the Pavlova significantly more fragile than meringue. Because Pavlova is notorious for deflating if exposed to cold air, when cooking is complete it is left in the oven to fully cool down before the oven door is opened.
Things to know before starting to prepare Pavlova:
♪ A basic pavlova meringue contains 1/4 cup caster sugar for every 1 egg white.
♪ The addition of cornstarch and vinegar helps create a soft marshmallow-like center and a crisp crust.
♪ Eggs must be at room temperature.
♪ Electric beater’s attachments and bowl must be absolutely clean; any grease or moisture will stop the egg-whites from aerating.
♪ Undissolved sugar causes ‘weeping’ (when moisture forms on the meringue) so if the mixture is grainy, continue beating. It could also mean too much sugar, over-beating, or not enough baking. Cook a little longer on humid days.
♪ If you remove the meringue from the oven when it’s still warm, it will cool too quickly, and may crack and collapse. (Cracking is normal, don’t worry. Cover it with whipped cream and fruit decoration.)
♪ Crystallization means over-baking.
♪ If Pavlova is not marshmallow-like inside, means it has been over-baked or wasn’t thick enough. Foamed egg white is a self-insulator, when the outside cooks it stops the heat penetrating the middle.
♪ Best to make Pavlova at night for overnight cooling process.
♪ If caster sugar is not sold in your neighborhood, grind same amount of granulated sugar in a food processor for 3~5 minutes.
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 6 large eggs at room temperature
• 1 pinch salt
• 250 gr / 1 ¼ cup caster sugar 
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 2 ¼ tsp cornstarch/corn flour
• 1¼ tsp distilled white vinegar
 If caster sugar is not available at your neighborhood markets, grind same amount of granulated sugar in a food processor for 1~3 minutes.
◊ Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Draw a 18 cm/ 7″ diameter circle on center of the parchment paper, turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side, and set aside.
◊ Separate egg-whites from yolks carefully… watch for no egg-shells or egg-yolks in the whites. Keep egg yolk for another recipe(s).
◊ Measure out the ingredients before you start beating the egg-whites so you don’t have to stop beating.
◊ In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed, add salt mid way, and until they hold soft peaks (~6 minutes).
◊ While mixer is still beating on high, gradually sprinkle sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl.
◊ Once all sugar is added, add vanilla, beat for 4~6 minutes more or until mixture is ‘thick‘ and glossy.
◊ Rub little bit of meringue mixture between your fingers and if not gritty, sugar is well-dissolved and ready for the next step.
◊ While beating, sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and beat for 5 more seconds and stop.
◊ Place rack on middle oven shelf and preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F.
◊ Spoon the mixture on top of each spoonful onto the circle on the parchment paper.
◊ Use an offset knife or back of a big spoon to draw the meringue mixture upward or a bit slant around the edge to create decorative markings around the sides, and flatten the top. (This will help support the sides of pavlova, and prevent it from cracking too much and collapsing… fingers crossed).
◊ Put in oven, lower heat to 90°C / 200°F and bake for 70 minutes (no more). DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!
◊ After baking meringue for 70 minutes, turn off the oven. Leave meringue in oven for
6 hours or over-night to cool completely. Again, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!
◊ When ready, carefully remove from oven, cover with a dome and put in refrigerator until ready to decorate.
When ready to serve
• 240 ml/ 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
• 1 tsp rosewater
• Colorful fruits of choice for topping (used here are canned peaches, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi)
◊ Beat cream and sugar, as it is getting harder add rosewater and continue beating until stiff.
◊ Spread on top of meringue and decorate with chilled soft fruits of your choice (best in bite size).
~ Bon Appétit! ~
Anna Pavlova in her signature ballet (filmed in 1925), The Dying Swan, choreographed by Mikhail Fokine in 1905.