Monday, July 29, 2013

Faux Pavlovas - The Great Pretender

Concluding my trilogy about the versatility of Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream), I have to include my simple version of "Mini Pavlovas with Pastry Cream and Berries!" These meringue shells filled with pastry cream, topped with berries, and brushed with a simple fruit glaze are sure to please any sweet tooth! Technically, pavlovas are a meringue-based dessert with a crisp crust and soft inside, thanks to the addition of cornstarch, then topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, particularly kiwi and strawberries. Pavlovas are believed to have been created in New Zealand in 1926, to honor Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, while on her world tour. However, Australia has been rumored to stake claim on the invention of this classic dessert. Who knows? But for now, we'll let them duke it out. 

The key to this fabulous version is to have all the elements made in advance - pastry cream chilling in the fridge, meringues baked earlier in the day, fruit washed and ready to go, and the glaze made and waiting to christen these stunning desserts! Then, when your meal is over, it takes only minutes to put together just before serving. You and your guests will love it, and they'll think you're amazing!

Mini Pavlovas with Pastry Cream and Berries

Makes 4


2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
About 1 cup Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)
Berries of your choice, strawberries go particularly well here
Spoonful of strawberry or apricot jelly or jam (if you use jam, you will need to strain out the solids)
Spoonful of water


For the meringue shells:
Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar until smooth and glossy, and firm peaks start to form, about 10 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Fill a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe out 4 shells, approximately 4" in diameter. Don't forget to make the edges higher to hold the pastry cream.

Place in the oven and bake until completely dry and easily release from the parchment. This can take anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on the oven and humidity. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use. Do not refrigerate!

For the glaze
Heat a spoonful of jelly or jam with a spoonful of water to make a thin glaze. If using jam, strain out any solids. Set aside until ready to use.

Finishing the dish
Whisk pastry cream until smooth and creamy. Spoon into shells.

Top with berries, hopefully in a beautiful way, and brush lightly with the glaze. Serve immediately. Fantastic!

You may also be interested in Fungus Among Us and Tres Chic.

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