American pavlova, what a winner

We had a little gathering of people at our new apartment today, so I decided to whip up a pavlova.

One of the first priorities after I moved to LA was to get all the equipment and ingredients for a making a pavlova. I brought with me my kitchen scales, some measuring spoons, baking trays and a spatula. High on the list of new items to purchase was a good quality hand-mixer, something better than my overheating, screaming one at home. One of my favourite stores in the US, Bed, Bath & Beyond, stocks a 9 speed KitchenAid electric beater with four different attachments. I was attracted to both the brand name and the sparkly mocha colour, so one of those babies came home with me after shopping for essentials like pillows and coathangers.

Love the KitchenAid beaters

I realised last night that the glass mixing bowl we got as part of a Pyrex set at Walmart was too small for making a double mixture pavlova, so after picking up yet another desk for the office this morning, J and I stopped by Kmart, which Karen-the-GPS pronounces kuh-mart. Kmart USA is not as good as Kmart Australia, and I could only find a relatively shallow 3.8L glass mixing bowl, which I mumbled something about how it would do the job for now. I also picked up a sieve to sift the cornflour.

I had looked around Ralph’s supermarket for all the ingredients and was again surprised at the lack of options and their not-quite-the-sameness to Australia:

  • Caster sugar (called Superfine Baking Sugar here) only had one option which came in a 1.89L milk carton 
  • Cornflour is called cornstarch here
  • Whipping cream comes in milk cartons and when whipped still manages to have somewhat of a foam cream from a can texture and taste
  • Vanilla extract here is far more thick and syrupy than our vanilla essence

Thanks to the ConvertPad app on my phone, I found out that the equivalent temperature for cooking my pavlova was 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best looking pav I've seen sans cream

So with all this brought, bought and figured out, I set up the beaters with the whisk attachment and started the process. I was down to the last bit of sugar to mix in and dissolve when I had a phone call, so I put down the beaters for awhile. When I got back to the kitchen, my previously perky pavlova peaks had morphed into a flat, runny mixture. I tried to beat some life back into it, but it just wasn’t quite the usual consistency, so I spooned it onto the baking tray and hoped for the best.

I don’t know whether it was the new consistency or my hoping for the best, but the best looking pavlova I’ve ever made came out of the oven. Whilst there were cracks in it, as is the norm, the top hadn’t sunken. It really threw me. I didn’t know what to do. I peeked in between the cracks to see if there was any of the marshmallowy meringue in there and saw that under the top crust was a big huge gap of air. So after some hemming and hawing, I chose to pick up the pav, put it on a presentation platter and then break the crust in order to make a hollow for the cream. I was so surprised when I could pick it up in two hands without it falling apart, as is usually the case.
Lots of marshmallow!

After adding the cream and then decorating with strawberries, kiwi and a few blueberries, it was ready for enjoyment and compliment. Both of which were heaped on and thrown about in generous sizes.

To my discerning pavlova palate, there were a few things I need to try and fix. I think the marshmallowy bit was a bit eggy and the cream not quite dense enough. But they were only small observations (made by me) and give me something to work on as I set out to become the Pavlova Queen of LA.


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