It only took me five months to finally whip up a recipe from a Jamie Oliver cookbook I received for Christmas, but I did it, and boy, what a way to start off.
A twist on a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food: The Ultimate Weekend Cookbook, my version of the “Dreamy Marshmallow Pavlova,” includes three additional ingredients: cream cheese, strawberry purée, and graham cracker. The result? A delicious cheesecake-like treat that is perfect for summer.
What is a pavlova you ask? A pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina that toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. And as with any famous dessert (e.g. baklava), both countries lay claim to its creation. (It’s still widely debated between the two nations who baked the first one.) It’s said that a chef in Wellington, New Zealand was inspired by the fluffy tutu worn by Pavlova to use meringue as the base for the dessert.
History lesson done, now go forth and bake!
Recipe (and directions) adapted from Jamie Oliver
8 large egg whites
1 3/4 c. superfine sugar, I used only 1 1/2 cups (Tip: you can put regular sugar in a food processor and run for 30 seconds to make it fine)
1/2 x Magnificient Marshmallow recipe minus cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar (Note: I made a full batch to fold some of it in with the whipped cream cheese)
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar
2 oz liquid glucose syrup (I had trouble finding this, so I used clear corn syrup instead.)
2 c. superfine sugar
10 sheets of gelatin
1 c. and 1/2 c. water
2 large egg whites
2 vanilla beans
1 1/2 tsp. natural food coloring and your choice of flavoring (optional)
1 1/4 lbs. seasonal berries (I used strawberries in this version)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh mint (I didn’t have any fresh mint on hand and I’m not a huge fan so I omitted it)
Whipped Cream Cheese
1 pkg. cream cheese
2 oz. strawberry purée (I used this -again, courtesy of my sister-)
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 2/3 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. Greek yogurt
1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF. (I preheated my oven to a lower temp since it runs hot; check your oven’s temp as this is crucial to a good meringue.)
2. Whisk the egg whites and a pinch of sea salt in a free-standing electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. Then with the mixer still running, very gradually and carefully add the sugar, turn to the highest setting and leave to mix for 8 minutes, or until fully dissolved (rub a pinch of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger – if it feels smooth you’re good to go).
3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then draw a 9-inch circle on each sheet of paper. Divide the mixture between the two sheets and spread it out to just inside your circles, then use the back of the spoon to flick up peaks and make troughs in the mixture to give you free-form, rustic meringues that are also elegant and delicate.
4. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn the oven off, leaving the meringues in there until the oven is cool. I then took the meringues with the parchment off of the cookie sheets and placed them on cooling racks.
5. When you’re ready to assemble the pavlova, make your magnificent marshmallow and whipped cream cheese (directions below).
6. As soon as it’s made, divide in big spoonfuls between the two meringues before it sets, being mindful to spoon in between the peaks and wisps of meringue, so it’s as pretty as possible. At this point, identify the dreamiest meringue and put the scruffier (trust me, there will be one) one onto a cake stand to form the base of your pavlova. Spoon half of the whipped cream cheese on top of the marshmallow.
7. Put the most perfect-looking half of your berries to one side, then place the other half in a bowl (removing any stalks).
8. Add the lemon juice, sugar and balsamic, toss together and leave to macerate for 10 minutes while you make the chantilly cream.
9. Halve the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape all the seeds into a large bowl with the sugar. Pour in the cream and whisk by hand until it forms soft peaks (all elegance will be lost if you overwhip the cream – if anything, underwhip it), then fold in the yogurt.
10. Spoon three-quarters of the cream into the centre of the base meringue and carefully smooth it out to the edge, trying not to completely cover the marshmallow. Spoon over the macerated berries and juices, then place the second meringue on top.
11. Dot over the remaining cream and cream cheese mixture in between the marshmallow and meringue wisps, then sprinkle with the reserved berries.
12. For the finishing touches, crush about three graham crackers (don’t pulverize them into dust) and sprinkle on top of the pavlova before serving. And because I’ve developed a weird obsession with balsamic vinegar, I drizzled an additional amount on top of my serving of pavlova (really, an Eton Mess at this point) before digging in.
1. This is a precise recipe, so make sure you read through the method carefully before you start, get all your ingredients weighed out and get your equipment ready to go.
2. Sift the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. Finely sift half the mixture over a deep baking tray (8 x 12 inches) and set the other half aside in the sieve until later. (Skip if making pavlova)
3. Mix the liquid glucose syrup (or corn syrup) and superfine sugar together in a saucepan over a low heat with 1 cup of cold water. Heat gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear syrup. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin leaves in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.
4. Once the sugar syrup is clear, turn up the heat, pop in a sugar thermometer and allow the syrup to boil vigorously (please don’t stir it). When it reaches 230ºF, place the gelatin pan over a medium heat and stir until dissolved.
5. Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing electric mixer until you have stiff peaks.
6. Once your syrup has reached 250ºF, very carefully and slowly pour it down the sides of the bowl of the moving mixer, then pour in the dissolved gelatin.
7. Halve the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, add the seeds to the mixer bowl, then continue to whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture has significantly increased in volume, but is thick and still pourable.
8. You can have a plain white vanilla marshmallow, or you can add any flavor, to taste (remembering to start small as you can always add more, but you can’t take it away!). Add any natural food coloring at the same time (if using), whisking for a further 2 to 3 minutes to give you a nice even color and flavor. Either way, pour the marshmallow mixture into your prepared tray, use a palette knife to smooth it out, then sift over the remaining mixed cornflour and icing sugar and leave somewhere cool for 2 to 3 hours, or until set and soft. (Again, skip when making the pavlova.)
Whipped Cream Cheese
1. Pour the strawberry purée and cream cheese into a bowl and whip until fluffy. Take about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of the marshmallow and fold into the cream cheese until the mixture is a uniform light pink in color.
If you don’t have the cookbook, a good chunk of the recipes found in there are on Jamie’s website, but I highly recommend buying a copy of the book. I absolutely love Jamie, his cooking style (rustic, clean flavors with an emphasis on fresh and healthy ingredients), and YouTube channel, Food Tube… oh, and he’s absolutely killing it on Instagram (#nosurprisethere).
P.S.-If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!