I’ve always been sceptical about the ability of the thermomix to beat egg whites. I’ve done it a couple of times with mixed results, but we all know how fiddly egg whites can be – and how they hate the merest speck of yolk, oil, water… whatever. Sometimes I think they just don’t like me!! Personally, I have nearly always used my hand mixer to do egg whites – mainly because I like to be able to see how they are progressing and just how ‘peaky’ they are, but yesterday I relented and decided to make Marg Rossi’s Pavlova.
I am a huge fan of pavlova – it’s one of my fail-safe crowd pleasers and so, so easy to make. I say this as someone who has always had the pavlova knack – but some of us are born lucky in that department, and others are miserable failures. Don’t think I’m smug, I can rattle off a list of a million things I’m bad at, but pavlova won’t be on it. I usually use Delia Smith’s recipe – which is literally egg white and sugar and nothing else, and the only look in the thermomix gets it to mill my raw sugar down to caster sugar.
There are also two distinct pavlova lovers – one that loves the whole thing to be crunchy, and the other who loves a crispy outer shell and marshmallowy gooeyness underneath. So, depending on your preference, this might just be the recipe for you!
To make sure your egg whites will fluff up, it’s imperative you have a scrupulousy clean bowl and lid. Do this after you’ve milled the sugar down. I actually put mine through the dishwasher, and then did the recommended vinegar clean as well, with the butterfly in place to make sure the butterfly was squeaky clean a well. I must admit, I was delighted when the egg whites whipped up as I was scared that I was going to waste the 225 grams of egg white. To make you really jealous, I actually used egg whites I had frozen previously, and they stood at room temperature to thaw out for a few hours, not the up to 24 hours that was suggested in the recipe. Call me a daredevil!! I needed to see that it could work if they were a little cold, as I mentioned previously – I see a pavolva as a great short notice dessert that you can make when you’ve got practically nothing in the cupboard, and getting egg whites to room temperature for 24 hours isn’t possible or practical a lot of the time at my house.
Because there is quite a lot of egg white in this recipe and quite a lot of sugar too, it makes quite a large pavlova. It also spreads quite a bit, so make sure you pile your meringue high and dome-ish, rather than they way I usually do, where I shape it to the way I want it to be when I pull it out of the oven. I’m not sure if this was just the way mine turned out, but the mixture was a little looser than my usual egg white and sugar only version.
I’ve heard that the trick to the gooey centre is to leave the pavlova in the oven once you’ve turned the oven off – but I’m not sure how true that is. It certainly does seem to work from the experience that I’ve had.
I really liked the vanilla essence in the mixture, but it wouldn’t be necessary if you are not a vanilla fan. I love vanilla, and recently bought a massive tube of the lovely vanilla bean paste at Costco – such a deal compared to the $10 for the little jars I had been buying at the supermarket.
So – what was it like? Well, it looked amazing – perfectly smooth and a lovely light gold colour. I was thrilled! Then when I went to lift it off the baking paper, it just wouldn’t budge. It cracked. And what was underneath felt really, really super gooey. I peeked under and there was a caramelised saucy liquid, which, to my knowledge means that I hadn’t incorporated the sugar and egg white well enough, or there was too much sugar for the egg white. Whatever the cause, I erred on the side of caution and put the oven on again at about 100 degrees for another 20 minutes, and let it cool down again.
I was very nervous about getting the pavlova off the baking paper again, so I was a complete lightweight and left it on the baking paper. Presentation fail, but it was only for family dinner on Sunday night. If I had been taking it somewhere I would have at least trimmed the baking paper off and worked more on the presentation.
I wasn’t optimistic about the end result, and against every bone in my body willing me to bin it, I put the cream on it and served it up… where it was, I must admit, completely delicious and not a bite was left. There was still some syrupy caramel sauce, but the family all agreed this was the best pavlova I’d ever made…And that’s really saying something!!