Summer Pavlova

I was inspired by this recipe in House Beautiful magazine:  Summer Berry Pavlova with Bourbon Whipped Cream

I pulled the pages out of the magazine, and had them out on the counter. I was making this for Easter Sunday brunch. It says right on there: “Don’t let on how easy it is. Just let ‘em think you’ve knocked yourself out.” That sounded like it really was not going to be a production number. WHa ha ha. Then the games started.

There are a couple of issues with this recipe, so lets walk through this and I’ll give you the work-arounds and hints you will need to make this successful. The directions say to trace around a 9″ cake pan as your guide to make circles. I have some mighty big baking trays, but they are only 17.5″ across inside the rim. I didn’t know this until I had already pulled the paper off the roll and traced two circles. The paper did not lay flat off the roll and the circles were not sitting in the pan. I needed to make 8″ circles and I needed to cut them out, so that they would sit diagonally across from each other.  The instructions never talk about making 4 circles, but that is how many are in the picture, so that is what I was using as a guide. In fact, the directions say “… line two heavy sheets….draw a circle on each baking sheet”. I didn’t think 4 sheets would fit in my oven. The mess of meringue is not something that you want to do two nights in a row, in two batches. I am betting they did  this in a test kitchen, not a home kitchen, so they had unlimited access to trays and ovens.

I did use the piping bag and it worked really well. Now, don’t get me wrong, the discs were not perfect, but it was sort of fun and they looked pretty good. I cooked them exactly as the instructions specified. The recipe says that you can do it up to 3 days ahead of time. We had plans the night before Easter, so I made these two nights ahead. I stored them on a dry flat surface with a tea towel covering them. Again, when you are getting ready for a holiday meal, where exactly are you going to put two big trays to store flat? This is right when you are trying to clear your counters off! So be aware you will need to find a place.

On the day of, I prepared to assemble the Pavlova. I started the mixer and began whipping the cream. I collected the meringues and went to peel the paper off the back of them. Insert canned laughter. It was like a Lucille Ball comedy sketch. Those things were delicate as lace and glued down with an industrial adhesive! Come ON! I had a team of ladies working with me at the time. Coffee was being brewed. Desserts were being arranged. Then there was me, swearing at the paper and the brittle sticky disks. I got one off the paper, barely, and then I started assembling. I chose to use fresh berries and did not stew them. I layered some whipped cream down with some berries and went for the next layer. All of the rest of the layers were just STUCK to the paper. They were a mess. I tried a tiny bit of olive oil on a spatula and that was marginally successful. With brute force and determination, I got one more layer on and just added the whip cream and fruit judiciously to hide the imperfections.

Here, I offer you mine. On it’s merits.
I will tell you this, it was met with rave reviews and people ate the plate clean. It was really delicious.
Here is the super pro tip you were waiting for. While we were wrestling these beasts, one of my ladies suggested putting them in the freezer. I did that. After brunch, I reached into the freezer to check on them out of curiosity. Hello. They peeled right off the paper without the slightest fight. So there you go! Freeze them for about 20 minutes right before you are going to assemble them. This is a great spring/summer dessert recipe. And believe it or not, I will do it again.

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