I’ve never read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People but, if it doesn’t begin with the words cook for them in big, bold, capital letters, it’s on the wrong track. In our book, food is the best way to win people over. Now that we’re getting our feet under us in our new home city, we’re slowly starting to deploy our go-to strategy. My brother and his girlfriend invited us to join them at her parents’ house for Sunday family dinner this past weekend and, reluctant to come empty-handed, we turned to a favorite dessert recipe – a fruit-studded pavlova.
We first encountered pavlova at a Thanksgiving potluck several years ago. The airy dessert stood out in the sea of butter and carbs. Dennis probably ate a quarter of it (before he was physically restrained by the other guests), and I knew we had found a winner. We found out that the recipe was an old family favorite of a good friend of ours from New Zealand and were thrilled when he agreed to share his secrets. Dennis isn’t usually a fan of sweets, usually preferring to eat fresh fruit after meals, so this was a huge discovery for me, who feels that a birthday without baked goods is no birthday at all.
This recipe is a great canvas for fresh fruit, so feel free to adapt and use whatever looks best at your local market. I also imagine it would be awesome with some sort of chocolate garnish (because really, what isn’t) but we can’t personally vouch for that.
Pavlova, courtesy of the Stolten family
- 3 egg whites (room temp)
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 300ºF.
- Beat egg whites until stiff*, add water and beat again.
- Turn down the mixer and slowly add sugar. Once sugar is incorporated, add vinegar, vanilla and cornflower.
- Turn the mixer speed back up and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread and smooth to desired shape (I usually aim for ~1-1.5″ thickness). Bake for 45 minutes.
- Turn off oven, leaving the pavlova inside, allowing the pavlova to slowly cool. Once the pavolva is cool, decorate with whipped cream and fruit.
*Our friend Michael, the source of this recipe, says that his grandmother beats her pavlova by hand with a whisk. My forearms are not up to this task but, if yours are, and you want to experience some serious kiwi pride, you should go for it.