It was a Baker’s Dozen at our house for first night seder. I recently eliminated fish from my diet, making this year’s seder completely vegetarian. For those curious, I served quinoa stuffed mushrooms; this mushroom and spinach egg bake; beet, orange and pickled fennel salad; roasted asparagus; roasted Japanese yams with an herby yogurt sauce; and matzo pizza for the kids. My parents brought a broccoli kugel and roasted potatoes to round out the meal.
But I’m not here to talk about dinner. Nope, we’re going to focus on the gluten-free dairy dessert that was a big hit at dinner, and on the Internet, this weekend.
Sometime last month I decided on doing a pavlova: a bed of airy meringue, topped with fresh whipped cream with fresh berries piled on top. This gave me ample time to find a good recipe. I cruised the Internet to find a reliable kosher-for-Passover pavlova recipe. I settled on one from Jamie Geller’s The Joy of Kosher. I made her tahini halvah brownies back in January, and they were superb.
As a lucky bonus to my quest for the perfect pavlova, this week I caught an episode of Simply Ming on PBS Create, in which he made pavlovas with Joanne Chang of flour bakery fame. I watched it carefully, taking notes as to how, why, and when Joanne added her sugar to the egg whites a spoonful at a time, and how long she cooled her meringue after it baked in a very low oven.
The big changes for a kosher-for-Passover pavlova were using potato starch instead of cornstarch and adding a smidge of vinegar; this helps with drying the meringue out. Although this recipe isn’t such a big deal to put together, you do need time. I did this at night so I could let the meringue dry out overnight in the oven as it cooled. I’d suggest you do the same.
The hardest part of this recipe is separating five egg whites, but then your machine does the rest of the work. Although I have hand-held egg beaters for Passover, it took me until this year to realize my Kitchen-Aid Mixer’s attachments are metal and could easily be kashered with some boiling water. If you can chill your bowl and whisk ahead of time, so much the better. The eggs are supposed to be cold, as well, so they can come right out of the fridge.
I made this Thursday night and whipped up the cream Friday midday, stuck that in the fridge, and put the dessert together during the seder. The whole process was simple and fuss-free. The results were no less than spectacular.
Mixed Berry Pavlova, adapted from Jamie Geller
For the Pavlova
5 cold egg whites
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons potato starch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
Garnish: Mixed Berries (I used blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
Preheat oven to 250°F. Using a dinner plate, trace a 9-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Flip the paper so ink does not get on the meringue and set aside.
Whip whites, salt, and vanilla on high in a mixer until firm. With the motor running, add sugar, a spoonful at a time, until whites are glossy and very stiff.
Gently fold potato starch and vinegar into meringue with a spatula.
Transfer meringue to prepared parchment paper. Form meringue into a rustic bowl. It’s not necessary to make it perfect. Just be sure to make the center thick enough to support the filling.
Bake pavlova at 250°F for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven and do not open the door for at least 6 hours or, better yet, overnight. The residual heat will crisp up the meringue and keep humidity out.
Place pavlova on a serving platter. Pile whipped cream on pavlova. Add berries.
With a mixer, or by hand, whip cream and sugar in a chilled bowl will chilled beater until soft folds form.
Whip until soft peaks form.