As if Peter Jackson, bungee jumping, and Flight of the Conchords weren’t enough, New Zealand’s also provided cooks with fine ingredients, from grass-fed lamb to rich venison, distinctive Sav Blancs, and of course, tangy kiwi fruit. There’s also the pavlova, the iconic New Zealand dessert that you probably have heard of, but most likely have never made.
This should change. The light, refreshing dessert is easy to make, highly customizable, and the perfect finish for a summertime barbecue or garden party. Capitalizing on warn weather’s fruit bounty, New Zealanders traditionally eat pavlova at picnics, family gatherings, and during Christmas, which falls during the New Zealand summertime.
Pavlova is essentially a meringue-based dessert that’s topped with fresh fruit and something creamy. It’s all about the texture: a well made pavlova will be soft and marshmallowy on the inside, yet crisp and crunchy on the outside. Add to that a silken custard or luxurious whipped cream, and juicy strawberries or kiwifruit, and you’ve got a sumptuous, well-balanced dessert.
The dish was named for Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, who toured both Australia and New Zealand in 1926, launching a rivalry between the two countries as to who made the first serving of this now iconic dessert. We’re not getting involved (except to say it’s New Zealand’s), and think it’s billowy, cloud-like texture looks a lot like the dancer’s tutu as it flitters and flutters about.
Ben Batterbury, Executive Chef at the True South Dining Room at the Rees Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand, stopped by the eatTV/SeeFood Media studios to show us how to make pavlova. In this cooking demo video, Ben puts a sophisticated twist on the old classic, creating individual-sized pavlovas with strawberries, mascarpone, saffron-infused custard, and lemon verbena ice cream.
Pavlova is versatile and highly customizable: start with the meringue base, then top with any cream, custard, or ice cream you’d like, and finish with whatever fruit is in season in your part of the world.