So last week I was in LA. The weather was 50°F. Meanwhile in Detroit it got up to 65°F or something. But of course now that I’m back in Detroit, it’s apocalypse snowing and absolutely frigid outside. It’s like the warm weather gods are trying to be as far away from me as possible. But whatever. I’m not going to get mad. I’m going to embrace it.
So because it’s very much still winter wherever I go, I am making winter-themed desserts. Like this Winter Citrus Pavlova Cake. Fluffy, white, snowlike… fitting, right? Pavlovas are traditionally a warmer-weather dish because they’re so light and airy. But honestly, I like them year-round. I mean… just look at this baby. Why limit yourself to it for only 3 months of the year?
What is pavlova?
If you’ve never tried a pavlova cake before, you might be looking at these recipe photos and thinking, what is that?! Named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, a pavlova cake is essentially massive layers of meringue that are topped with whipped cream and fruit (a fruit curd or jelly sometimes sneaks its way into pavlova recipes too). Pavlova cakes are immensely popular in Australia, and they’re slowly creeping into American culture.
Tips on how to make pavlova
Admittedly, making a pavlova cake sounds like a daunting task. Just the thought of making a homemade meringue would’ve terrified me a few years ago. But as long as you keep these few tips in mind, your pavlova will turn out beautifully!
Beat the eggs before adding the sugar—Meringue uses no leavening agents other than whipped egg whites, so you need to whip the eggs whites really well before incorporating the other ingredients. Whip the whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add in the sugar. You should continue to whip the egg whites until hard peaks form.
Bake the meringue low and slow—To avoid cracking the meringue, you need to bake it for about an hour at a low temperature, then turn off the oven and let the meringue sit in the warm oven for another hour. This will dry out the meringue fully and help it cool off without breaking.
Assemble the pavlova only once the meringue has cooled—Sorry, guys. You have to wait until the meringue layers are completely cooled before assembling your pavlova cake. Warm meringue won’t be firm enough to layer, plus it’d make the whipped cream go runny.
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2 blood oranges, peeled with a knife and cut into circles
1 navel orange, peeled with a knife and cut into circles
1 cara cara orange, peeled with a knife and cut into circles
2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
a few tablespoons balsamic glaze (optional)
Preheat oven to 180°F.
Using a pencil, draw the outline of an 8-inch cake pan on parchment paper. Flip the paper over and place on a cookie tray. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, using a mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in salt and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form. In small additions, beat in the granulated sugar until completely combined, then continue to beat until hard peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper and, using the back of a large spoon, push the meringue so it spreads out to the 8-inch circle you outlined with the cake pan. Using the spoon, create a large well in the center of the meringue. The center should be about 1/2 inch tall and the outside should be about 1 1/2 inches.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then turn off heat and allow meringue to sit for an additional hour in the oven. It is in this hour that the meringue will dry out completely. Then, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the meringue is cooling, whip up the topping! In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Spread over the meringue, then top with citrus, pistachios, and balsamic glaze 🙂