Today’s recipe was an experiment I served to our new neighbors, who invited us over for Thanksgiving and graciously allowed me to bring it as dessert, even with the disclosure that it was my first time making it. I had made pavlovas before, but using a recipe in a cookbook for a chocolate version (from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, a.k.a. Nigella Fresh: Delicious Flavors on Your Plate All Year Round). What you see below is a mostly traditional pavlova recipe, but I added canned pumpkin and spices to give it a more holiday feel.
By the way, the pavlova is a traditional recipe from Australian and New Zealand (there is dispute as to which country invented it) named for the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who was presented with the newly-created dish during her tour of those countries in the 1920s. It continues to be a favorite in both countries at the holidays and special occasions.
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup canned pumpkin
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp corn starch
2 cups heavy whipping cream, beaten
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350° and place a sheet of parchment paper* on a baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine first 5 ingredients.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add in sugar, one spoonful at a time, beating until shiny and satiny. Beat in vinegar and corn starch. Gently fold in pumpkin mixture with a rubber spatula, making sure to eliminate white streaks.
Spread the meringue mixture on the parchment paper into a 9-inch circle. Smooth out sides and top. Place in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300°. Bake for one hour until it is crispy and dry around the edges and on top, but moist in center, giving slightly when touched.
Allow to cool completely. Top with whipped cream (with sugar beaten in), then chopped walnuts. Note: You probably shouldn’t use all of the whipped cream.
Here is a picture of the pavlova I made on Thanksgiving. This one was probably too wide, and therefore a bit thin. You want it nice and fat, for flavor and to get the feeling of crunch on the outside and softness in the center. Even though I’ve made it a few times, it can still be a challenge to get it “just right,” so don’t be disheartened if you don’t think it’s perfect. After all, it’s not the look that matters!
Bon appetit! Or, as they say in Australia, bog in!
*Try to find non-stick parchment paper. If you can’t or are still uncomfortable with the risk of sticking, lightly sweep butter over the surface.