Confession: I’ve never made pavlova. Or meringue cookies. Or meringue pies. Or anything involving the baking of whipped egg whites.
Like pies and soufflés, meringue intimidates me so much that I’ve gone out of my way to avoid it (making it, that is; I have no problem downing a piece of pie, a soufflé, AND a generous helping of pavlova in one sitting. I might also be part-cow and have an extra “dessert stomach,” but that’s beside the point.). It’s so delicate that even the slightest knock or touch is enough to make it crumble, and abrupt changes in temperature/altitude/barometric pressure/religious affiliation can cause it to fall and crack. High maintenance, much?
I’m not sure if it’s residual New Year resolve trying to surface or just a fleeting moment of courage, but whatever the case– this Blood Orange Pavlova happened (after 2 failed attempts). On the first try, I removed the meringue from the oven too quickly after baking and it ended up looking like an earth quake victim. On the second try, I utilized the ring of the spring form pan to help the meringue keep its shape while baking. It turned out fine, but I deemed it too “damn unpretty” to photograph. The third try was, of course, the charm.
The meringue base is my great-grandmother’s recipe that was handed down to me a couple years ago by my grandmother. She typically utilizes it in a torte with layers of fresh strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream, which is so wonderfully summery and refreshing. But, meanwhile in Chiberia (yep, we’re currently experiencing Polar Vortex #2 in Chicago this year), I decided to go with something less frozen: enter the aforementioned pavlova.
Dress it up with wintery blood oranges, whipped cream, and a splash of Grand Marnier for something a little bit sophisticated. Blood orange is the new black, after all…
Blood Orange Pavlova
- 4 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar (or equal amount cream of tartar, as they are interchangeable)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons blood orange juice from 1 blood orange
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
- 1 blood orange, sliced with peel in tact
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and lightly grease the base of a 9-inch springform pan (you won't need the ring for this recipe)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the greased springform pan base at the center of the sheet
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, vinegar (or cream of tartar), and salt until soft peaks form (the tips will curl)
- Gradually add the sugar and vanilla extract, beating on high until stiff peaks form (tips will stay upright)
- Use a spatula to spread the meringue out onto the greased pan, leaving a slight depression in the middle
- Place in oven and bake for one hour
- After one hour has passed, turn off oven and open oven door about an inch, allowing the meringue to come down in temperature for an additional 40 minutes (this helps to prevent the meringue from falling)
- Right before serving, pour heavy cream, blood orange juice, Grand Marnier, and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks form
- Use a spatula to spread cream over the meringue base
- Dip blood orange slices in small bowl of sugar, taking care to thoroughly coat each side
- Top whipped cream with sugared blood orange slices and serve immediately