Pavlova is a meringue based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova. It is believed to have been created to honor one of her tours to Australia in the 1920's. This luscious dessert is crispy on the outside and has a soft, marshmallowy interior. The meringue is traditionally made into a circle, either one large or smaller individual sized portions, and topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Instead of a round meringue base this recipe makes a sweet meringue cake that is rolled up with whipped cream and fruit. I found this version of Pavlova in an issue of Bon Appetit in the mid-80's and always make it when fresh strawberries and raspberries are in season. Local berries are best, but I found some unusually nice ones at the market so thought this would be a special dessert for Mother's Day.
Strawberry Hazelnut Rolled Pavlova...adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine
1 cup egg whites (7-8 whites)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1-1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 18x12x1 inch baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Using electric mixer beat egg whites and lemon juice in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 2 cups sugar and cornstarch. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue in prepared baking sheet, smooth top. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the meringue. Bake until the top is pale golden brown but center is still soft, 30-40 minutes. Let meringue cool for 10 minutes, then tip it onto a tea towel, paper side up. Carefully remove paper. Use a small knife to loosen edges if necessary. If it tears a bit don't worry about it. You won't notice it when the cake is rolled.
Combine chilled whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat until thick. The cake is sweet so you can leave out the sugar if you prefer.
Let cake cool for 20-30 minutes. Spread with whipped cream, sprinkle with fresh fruit and roll up starting at the short end. If the meringue cracks, don't worry. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving. Slice with a sharp serrated knife.
The crust doesn't remain crisp for too long, especially when the roll is refrigerated. What does happen is the meringue absorbs moisture from the whipped cream and becomes even lighter in texture. Either way, this is one fantastic dessert. What could be more perfect for Mother's Day?