The Worst Pavlova Fails On The Internet And How To Avoid Them This Christmas
While the traditional Australian Christmas dessert seems easy enough -- there are plenty of pavlova traps that can catch out even the most skilled baker.
The recipe depends on fresh egg whites, a silky yet firm meringue, a reliable oven and a beginner's level understanding of the laws of physics.
A quick search on social media shows a devastating gallery of #pavlovafails -- a collection of miserable pavs that would make Maggie Beer weep.
There's this blackened garbage bin lid
This unappetising vat of glue that didn't even make it to the oven.
A pavlova that looks like a fungus-ridden forest floor that Yotam Ottolenghi had nothing to do with.
We're not sure what happened here but there are no points for trying on Christmas Day -- it's a high stakes game.
"Never bake in a rush" is most definitely code for "Never bake while drunk".
We're not trying to scare you off making a pavlova this summer and there's no need to rush to the supermarket for a pre-made shell just yet because we called up a bonafide Pavlova Queen for her advice.
Jess Hall impressed Nigella Lawson herself on 'MasterChef Australia' in 2019 after she plated up her pavlova with vanilla cream and smoked plums with mint dust.
She kindly spoke to 10 daily ahead of Christmas to guide us through the pav-minefield and offered some bullet-proof tips for a showstopping dessert.
"People who don't make it all the time get so scared of it and it's actually... if I can do it, anyone can do it!" Jess told us.
Keep it simple
Jess advised us to keep it pretty simple when you're mixing up your meringue mixture.
"My tip is just to use egg whites and sugar -- don't add vinegar or cornflour or anything else," she said of the agents that some recipes include.
Be a little fancy and don't opt for regular white sugar, "Use golden caster sugar, it gives more of a caramel flavour," Jess explained.
"You've got to make sure the egg whites are whipped to be nice and firm," Jess told 10 daily. "Then, sort of like you'd ice a cake around the edges, you smooth it all out and make sure there's a dip in the middle."
Jess said you "want a bit of a well" in the centre of your pav because "when you start to put your cream and fruit on top, you don't want them to roll down the sides and become really messy".
Use the oven's powers to your advantage
"Once the pavlova has finished cooking in the oven, turn it off and leave it in the oven overnight," said Jess.
"It gives the outside as much chance to dry out and be really crisp, it reduces the chance of cracking and it gives it nice chewy edges," she added.
Get a little fancy
Jess said she's making her famous 'MasterChef' pav this year but will be smoking seasonal cherries instead of plums.
"I'm also going to attempt to do a three-tiered pav and mix ground hazelnuts through the meringue to give it another level of flavour," she told us.
Jess' recipe for Pavlova with Vanilla Cream and Smoked Plums
3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 cup thickened cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways, seeds scraped
Smoked Plums in Syrup
10 red plums
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
fine hickory smoking chips
20 mint leaves
Baby mint leaves, to garnish
For the pav:
Preheat oven to 180C and line a large tray with baking paper.
Place egg whites into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until soft peaks form. With the motor running, add the sugar gradually to the egg whites and continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is thick and glossy.
Spoon 4 mounds of meringue onto the lined tray. Using the back of the spoon, spread the meringues out slightly into a circle, creating peaks around the outer edge and a cavity in the centre.
Reduce the oven to 150C then place the meringues into the oven for 35 minutes.
Turn off the oven and allow meringues cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes or overnight, if possible. Remove from the oven and store in a dry place until required.