Mounds of snowy-white meringue can be used to decorate pies and other desserts, but in some cases the meringue itself is the main attraction. That's the case with Pavlova, a fruit-topped meringue shell that's one of the signature dishes of both Australia and New Zealand. Like any other baked meringue, Pavlova shells require extended baking and drying time. You can streamline its preparation by baking the meringue shell ahead of time, then thawing and filling it when it's needed.
Prepare and bake the Pavlova shell as directed in your recipe, on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Most cookbooks call for the meringue to cool to room temperature in the oven, with the oven door propped open slightly to release heat.
Transfer the cooled Pavlova shell, on its pan, to your freezer. If your freezer isn't large enough for the sheet pan, slide the dessert onto a flat tray or plate first.
Freeze the Pavlova shell for 2 hours, or until it's completely rigid. Wrap it in a fresh sheet of parchment paper, then slide the meringue into a heavy-duty freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible and position the delicate dessert in an area of your freezer where it won't accidentally be damaged before you use it.
Remove the Pavlova shell from your freezer at least 2 to 3 hours before you need to fill it. Unwrap it and leave it sit on the counter until it's thawed, then fill it with its signature mixture of whipped cream and freshly sliced fruit.
Slice the dessert into wedges for serving.
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- The Professional Pastry Chef; Bo Friberg
- The Daily Mail Online: The Big Freeze! Pavlova with Pomegranates
- The dinner party version of Pavlova makes a single large dessert to be shared between several people, but you can also make smaller shells for individual portions.
- Unlike most baked meringues, Pavlova is supposed to be chewy in the middle rather than crisp. If the middle of your Pavlova shell hasn't softened after freezing and thawing, refrigerate it for an hour or two after it's filled with the cream and fruit. This gives time for the center to soften.
- The frozen shell is very fragile, so if it will be in your freezer for more than a day or two the bagged meringue should be placed inside a rigid container for protection.
- Pavlova should always be frozen before it's filled. Once filled, it won't hold or freeze but must be eaten or discarded.
- If you live in a humid climate, thaw the Pavlova in front of a fan or air conditioner to reduce the likelihood of condensation forming on the cold meringue.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.