Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Palatable Perks of Pavlova (Culinary Class)

(Submitted by CHS Senior, Shoilee Rahman)

The Palatable Perks of Pavlova

     After enduring complex and mundane academic courses all day, partaking in Culinary I allows me to be creative and learn everyday cooking skills. Recently, eggs have stolen the show in Culinary I. We had just finished making creme brûlée in an array of flavors using egg yolk; the whites of the eggs, however, were going to be used for a dessert called pavlova. A meringue-based dish, pavlova is a popular dessert. Known as a "fruit pie" with a "meringue crust," the dessert's origin can be traced back to both New Zealand and Australia, countries who claim they invented the dessert. Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in 1926, the pavlova recipe was not officially published until 1929. Though its origin remains unclear, pavlova is still considered to be a very rich and prominent dessert today.
   Wholly unfamiliar with this foreign dessert, I approached the pavlova lab with the utmost excitement. Prior to making pavlova at the end of the week, our entire class learned about the techniques behind making pavlova and the characteristics of meringue. Our class quickly learned how to create and distinguish between soft, medium, and stiff peaks in meringue-skills necessary for successfully making pavlova.

     Eventually, the lab began. Grabbing a chilled bowl and whisk from the freezer, my group instantly got to work. We were first instructed to beat the egg whites at medium speed until they held soft peaks. Later on, we beat the egg whites until they held stiff peaks. The egg whites, however, were not the only things that took a beating. By the time we were done creating the meringue, our wrists felt like they would detach from our arms. Partners were definitely convenient during this project because we could switch positions from time to time. To get the necessary flavor and texture, we also added vanilla extract, vinegar, superfine sugar, and cornstarch to the mix. After baking the meringue crust, our group got after the creme chantilly the following day. To the discomfort of our already weak wrists, making the whipped cream involved yet another arm workout.

    After topping the meringue crusts with the creme chantilly and fresh fruits, our group got to the best part-eating. Although the crunchy texture of the meringue was unexpected, I found pavlova to be a refreshing and favorable dessert. My experiences with meringue and whipped cream will help me make a variety of desserts later on. In the future, I plan on making pavlova for my graduation party and other gatherings.