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Pavlovas are an example of working like heck to get to heaven. That’s at least how it seems without an electric blender—or a whisk. That’s right. I don’t have a whisk. And I set out to make pavlova. I’m don’t feel as proud as I do foolish.

In my defense, I had never made pavlovas or merengues before. Also to my defense, often recipes do call for unnecessary gadgets, and in the past I’ve always made it work with a fork. Making pavlova has taught me that for some things, you really should have a whisk—or not, maybe. I did accomplish this using a fork and a spatula, but not without some heavy lifting. You’ve been warned—if you don’t have an electric mixer, this could count as a workout on arms day.

So, being unprepared and ignorant as to what I was getting into, I started making this last night. The recipe said it was easy and would take ten minutes, so I thought, great! I can make this for dessert after the meat pie!

I gently separated the yolks from the egg whites and began mixing. The recipe called to whisk until “soft peaks” formed. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I checked by watching this very helpful video.

I began whisking with my fork.  Twenty-five minutes later, no magical peaks were forming. I Googled another recipe just to see if any listed the time it would take to make it by hand, but every recipe called for an electric mixer. I started to wonder if it was even possible to make merengues without one. Of course you can, one part of me said. What did they do before electric mixers? Then I wondered when merengues were first created.

I tweaked my Google search to “pavlova without electric mixer,” to see if it was deemed possible. Two recipes said it would  be impossible. Finally, one site said that to avoid giving your arm a workout, you should use an electric mixer—which I took as encouragement: so it is possible without one! I looked down at the giant bowl of egg whites and decided I had to at least try.

Thirty-five minutes later, I could see the light on the horizon—I got one soft peak in the midst of the liquid. I kept going. Another twenty minutes later, soft peaks were forming, my arms were aching, and I considered it as good it was probably going to get. By that time, it was nearly time for bed, so I popped the merengue mix in the oven and stayed up just long enough for it to bake.

The next day…

I went to retrieve the merengue/sugar cloud from the oven. It felt so light and delicate that I was afraid to try to slide it off the parchment paper, so I cut around the merengue base with scissors instead.

Then I began the process of mixing the heavy cream with the confectioner’s sugar. To give you a sense of just how delicate the merengue is, it cracked from the weight of the cream when I poured the cream over it.

Then I added strawberries and raspberries. I heard the center started to crack from the inside from the weight of the berries so I anticipated a collapse, but it stayed together.

Sugar powder puffed up from the dessert when I cut it. I tasted it and immediately thought that something this tasty should be illegal.

It looks beautiful, and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I can’t imagine what it must taste like when made by the experts (with electric mixers, too!). I also can’t believe that without this project, I may have never tried one. How can something this good stay on just one side of the globe?

Just in case I haven’t communicated just how good this is, let me reiterate—it’s so good that when I got up to have another slice, I was surprised again at how good it was.

Don’t refrigerate this baby though—unless you’re going to eat it all at once (which would not be hard to do) or serving it at a party, I recommend pouring cream just over the slices rather than the whole pavlova. That way, refrigeration won’t be necessary. After refrigeration, it still tastes great—but like, supermarket dessert quality great versus magic great.

Can’t wait for the next pavlova in my life…

Written by A. Alexander


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