Ya know how your brain sometime works like a bad internet search engine? ---queue the Bing! commercial here.
A friend of mine, who just so happens to be the extremely talented writer of Ravenmarked
, was mentioning a terrible cover of Elton John's Tiny Dancer the other day on Facebook. I was extremely sympathetic to her plight, as I have heard several "covers" over the years that made my ears bleed. That was when my search engine kicked in.
I am sure it was triggered by the fact that as soon as "Tiny Dancer" was mentioned, the lyrics began flashing through my cortex. And the random search began. My engine focused one particular line; "Ballerina, you must have seen her.... Dancin' in the sand..." OK try to stay with me as I take you through the recesses of my hypothalamus. For some weird reason, the sand made me think of surfing in Australia. I really don't know why I have never surfed in my life much less been to Australia... But then the connection with dancing was made to Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. You see, when Anna Pavlova toured through New Zealand and Australia, they names a dessert after her. OK, so now I moved on to making a Pavlova (I just happen to have some Tayberries, which will be GREAT on top) But I wanted them to be individual sized.... "Tiny Pavlova in my hand"
Now that I have everyone convinced that I am certifiably insane, or at least that there is something wrong with the way my synapses fire, on with the Tayberry Pavlovas....
I will warn you that I am cheating... I had egg whites in the refrigerator, but I didn't want to wait for them to warm to room temperature, so I decided to use the Swiss Meringue method, instead of French or Italian. One other thing. What distinguishes Pavlova Meringue from other hard meringues is the addition of some cornstarch. It helps to keep the center a little more marshmallow-y even after drying, thus giving the Pavlova it's unique texture.
Pavlovas have 3 steps - Meringue, Cream or Mouse, and finally the fruit topping and garnish.
Miniature Tayberry Pavlova
(with Blood Orange Glaze
6 large Egg Whites
1 1/2 cups of Granulated Sugar (that is 4 TB per large egg white
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 tsp Corn Starch
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
On a piece of parchment, use a pencil to draw or trace a 4 inch round.
Turn the parchment over (cause you don't want graphite in your meringues
) and use the rounds as guides.
Place a sauce pan of water over medium-high flame.
Place the Egg Whites, Sugar, Salt, Cream of Tarter, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract in the bowl of your electric mixer and set this over the simmering water.
Heat the mixture, while whisking constantly, until it comes to 120 degrees. (this ensures that the sugar is dissolved completely, thus creating a more stable meringue
Remove the bowl from the simmering water and place it on your mixer base that has been fitted with a whisk attachment.
Whisk on high speed until a thick shiny meringue is formed.
While you are beating the meringue, begin heating your oven to 200 degrees (it will only take about 10 minutes
Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the Swiss Meringue into the middle of each traced round.
Smooth to the edges of the lines with a spatula or a spoon (alternatively, you can use a piping bag and pipe rounds
Place the baking sheet into the oven and "dry" the meringues for 1 1/2 hours, then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to cool for 1 hour longer.
Remove them from the oven and peel them from the parchment very carefully.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or continue with the next step. (this will make 12 4-inch pavlova bases
Lemon Cream filling
1/3 cup Confectioners' Sugar
3 TB Lemon Juice
1/2 cup (4 oz
) Crème Fraîche
1 1/2 cups (12 oz
) Heavy Cream
Zest of 1 Lemon
In a medium bowl, combine Confectioners' sugar and Lemon juice.
Whisk until the sugar dissolves,
Add Crème Fraîche and whisk until smooth
Add Heavy cream
and Lemon zest.
Whisk the Mixture until it just begins to thicken. (you want a fairly "soft " whipped cream, to contrast with the crisp Meringue
Cover with plastic and chill for 2 hours (it will thicken a little more in the refrigerator because it contains Crème Fraîche
Blood Orange Glaze:
Before I get into this, mind you I was in a hurry, I was having an obsessive moment and Blood Oranges are not in season right now. (sigh
) Luckily World Market's Blood Orange Soda is made with juice and cane sugar, so in a way, it just saved some steps. I will admit it's still a little cheesy in a way, but it worked fairly well. Next time though, I want to make Blood Orange Coulee instead of a glaze
12 oz Blood Orange Italian Soda
1 TB Lemon Juice
Pour soda and lemon juice in a small sauce pan.
Simmer over medium-low flame until reduced to a mere 3 oz.
Cover and chill.
Blood Orange Sauce
So what is a Tayberry? It is a bramble berry hybrid from Scotland created by crossing a Logan Berry with a Black Raspberry. Logan Berries in and of themselves are a hybrid, being a Blackberry crossed with Raspberry. Tayberries have an incredible scent and flavor almost like a rose, but not quite.
Place a Meringue disk on a plate.
Spoon Lemon Cream on top of that.
Top with fresh Tayberries.
Drizzle with Blood Orange Glaze.
And consume with great vigor.... Thus the mini-pavlova or tiny dancer in my hand.
Though in all honesty, you should probably leave is on the plate and eat it with a fork.