Individual Pavlovas

by Jenn on June 1, 2010

in Desserts,Gluten Free

PAG_1386pavlova

I am a scientist.  As such, I am no stranger to using technology to solve problems.  I love that so many sophisticated tools have been developed to offer us a unique way of seeing the world that has never been possible before.  When you step back and look at the evolution of our technology through the course of history, you have to admit that it’s quite astonishing just how intricately all of our lives have become married to a dependency on so many complex machines.   But sometimes you have to sit back and think – is it all so absolutely necessary in every aspect of our lives?

On an average night, I am usually only cooking for the two of us – I’m not a chef in a restaurant, cooking for an entire evening of customers.  Nor am I preparing a giant buffet for a reception.  It’s just me and my husband.  And when things are small and simple, sometimes using modern technology gets in the way.  For example, take the act of whipping cream.  It will actually take me more time to dig out the hand mixer and assemble it, and it will make more of a mess to beat whipped cream with a mixer in my bowls than it would if I just grabbed a whisk out of the drawer and did it by hand.  That’s right, I’ll say it again – for me, a collection of metal shaped into a ball is faster than an electric mixer at making whipped cream.

I first learned to make whipped cream this way when I was young, though I didn’t fully appreciate the method until later.  Almost as long as I can remember, growing up in church we had a giant strawberry festival for a month in the summer, and we would raise money by selling beautiful homemade strawberry shortcakes.  To this day those are some of the best strawberry shortcakes I’ve ever had.  My family was volunteering to help out that day, and I got set on the task of whipping cream by a woman with a particularly distinct Scottish brogue – ha back then I thought I would never get this cream into whipped cream!  But in a kid’s mind time goes differently – and a few minutes can seem like an eternity.  Now, a few minutes is nothing.  Whipped cream with a whisk is easy.  Maybe even easier than with a mixer.  Did I mention it’s one less dish to wash too?

Sometimes, embracing our luddite tendencies (come on, you all know you have a few, even if you don’t want to admit it!) is not such a bad thing.  Making whipped cream by hand, my friends, is not hard.  You put a whisk in a bowl of cream and you beat it.  You don’t even need a lot of strength, as cream won’t give you much resistance.  In about 5 minutes, I have a bowl of beautiful peaks, whipped exactly to the stiffness I want.  In fact, I have complete control over the type of whipped cream I make.  I don’t have to guess when the mixing is done because I’ve been directly involved in the whipping process the entire time.  When it comes to whipped cream, I’ll probably never drag out another mixer again.

Now egg whites on the other hand, are a different story.  If you want to make meringues by hand, be prepared for a workout.  In fact, whipping up egg whites should be counted as a valid form of aerobic exercise.  Egg whites have more surface tension than cream, it takes more effort to whip them.  Whipping egg whites by hand took a good 15 minutes for 2 eggs.  And not 15 minutes of “oh look I’m whipping egg whites with a whisk – isn’t this lovely!” but rather, 15 minutes of “omg I think my arm is going to fall off because I’m whipping these literally as fast as I can and my muscles have just about fatigued ok I think I’ll call my husband in now to give myself a break!”  Yep, he can attest to the fact that egg whites take a lot of effort too :)

But, I think it’s good to do things by hand every now and then.  It makes you appreciate the work it actually takes to create some dishes.  I’m not giving up on egg whites by hand.  I think in my world with so much relying on technology, I need something that doesn’t, where I can work with my hands.  There is an intangible fulfillment that comes from such creations, and I suspect this is yet another reason why I love to cook.

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Pavlova on Foodista

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Disgruntled Julie June 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I couldn’t agree more — I prefer to do absolutely as much as possible by hand. I love my stand mixer, but I really only use it when I’m baking for the whole lab, and am making a triple batch of something just because it’s more convenient for a giant batch. When it comes to cookies, cakes, whipped cream, etc, I always prefer a bowl and a whisk. Like you said, you have complete control!

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Jenn June 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Ha maybe we scientists just need to be able to control things…glad to hear I’m not the only one!

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Shree June 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

ooh I totally agree, sometimes using the mixer or some fancy equipment is much more trouble than its worth ESPECIALLY for small quantities. I’ve done the whipped cream with the ‘arms falling off’ feeling as well :)) Thanks for the recipe :)

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Jenn June 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm

haha, maybe if I practice some more I’ll build my muscles….instead of lifting weights I can make meringue!

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ValerieF June 1, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I love knowing how to do things by hand, and knowing how much effort things take. I’m IN LOVE with my stand mixer though, and will use it for everything I could possibly ever use it for. Like making pasta, I know how to knead by hand, how to use a hand cranked pasta roller, but oh boy, it takes soooo much less time to do it with the KitchenAid, which means I’ll actually make it more often!

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Jenn June 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm

That’s awesome that you love your stand mixer so much. Truth be told, my parents gave me their extra stand mixer a few years ago, and I ended up giving it back because I hardly ever used it!

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Yudith June 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I totally agree!! We’re on the same boat over here–I am just cooking for the two of us, and the thought of pulling out even a hand mixer to whip heavy cream is a drag! Love the recipe :)

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Jenn June 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Thanks! Ha what’s ironic though is I use my food processor ALL the time….but hand mixer? not so much. There is a more direct time savings from the food processor though for the applications I use it for…

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Meg @ Gluten-Free Boulangerie June 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I, too, have always whipped cream by hand. It sounds like I’ll have to get a mixer before I try making these however – I don’t think I could endure 15 minutes for the egg whites!

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Jenn June 1, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I didn’t – I had to get my husband to help! I think I will try again though, now I want to be able to do it without my arms getting tired :)

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Rosa June 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

A delicious dessert! A perfect summer treat, mmhhh!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 6:43 am

Thanks!!

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Aubree Cherie June 2, 2010 at 1:03 am

I wouldn’t be able to partake in the cream, but I certainly enjoyed reading your post! So fun :) I’ve been a student for some years and still have two more to go, so money for fancy gadgets isn’t anywhere to be found. So while I’m still a student, bring on the whisk! :) (I know you can relate to the student part; you had more years than I will! :))

~Aubree Cherie

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 6:57 am

Ha great! And yes, yes, I can relate very much :)

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The Nifty Foodie June 2, 2010 at 2:05 am

I agree! While I haven’t made whipped cream by hand, I do avoid using the mixer for most baking tasks. :)

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 6:58 am

You should try whipped cream by hand, it’s surprisingly simple!

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Stacy June 2, 2010 at 5:39 am

My grandma had a sturdy old metal eggbeater that I asked her to give me, and it honestly whips cream faster than my Kitchen Aid — plus it’s fewer dishes to wash.

I must make more cake than you because when it comes to creaming butter and sugar you would have to pry my stand mixer out of my cold, dead hands.

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 6:59 am

yeah I don’t make that many cakes…not ones that would need a stand mixer anyways…
Is the eggbeater one of the old turn the crank ones? those rock!

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fimère June 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm

ce dessert me fait saliver, j’adore
bonne journée

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Merci beaucoup!

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Melanie June 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hmm…less dishes to wash or beating by hand…its a toss up for me really, depending on my mood. Although I’ve been angry with my stand mixer ever since I dropped it on my toe after baking Christmas cookies all day (and drinking wine : ) So yeah, I’d have to agree with you and go for doing it by hand. This looks delicious!

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Jenn June 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Thanks!

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Linn @ Swedish home cooking June 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

I love mini versions of pastries and treats. This is adorable! Mm. I would not mind one of these to go with the cup of coffee I’m drinking right now.

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Jenn June 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

Thanks! Yes I suspect these would be quite lovely with a cup of coffee…

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bake in paris June 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

This pavlova surely gets a lot of attention, especially when you whip the meringue manually !! Beautifully decorated pavlova, reminds me of summer :-)

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

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Jenn June 3, 2010 at 11:35 am

Hi Kris! haha it was definitely an experience – but a tasty one in the end :) Thank you so much! Summer is just about upon us here en Suisse, and the local strawberries are just fantastic!

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 3, 2010 at 11:38 am

Congrats on Top 9 today Jenn! Being from Australia, I have eaten many a pav in my day but it’s a tricky one for me to master. It’s actually on my list of things to make in the next few weeks and I have bookmarked this for future reference! Cheers!

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Jenn June 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Thanks Mardi! Maybe making little ones is easier than one large meringue – honestly I have yet to try a full-sized pavlova – it is on my list of things to make as well!

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Linda June 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Jenn, that looks so lovely and delicious. Thanks for adding it to this week’s carnival.

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Jenn June 6, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Thanks so much!

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Magdalena June 3, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Hi! It look absolutely yummy! I have heard so much about this pavlova dessert; even on Polish culinary blogs one can see recipes quite often. I have to do it one day, in particular topped with some red fruits….kind regards

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Jenn June 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Thank you so much! They are so light and perfect for summer, especially now that fruits are coming into season!

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Alisa June 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I find mixing food by hand rather calming.It’s a great catharsis especially if I had a bad day.You did a wonderful job with this one and I sure would love to share to Foodista readers this post if you wont mind.Just add your choice of Foodista widget at the end of this blog post and it’s good to go.Thanks!

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Jenn June 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Thanks! Added :)

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Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free June 5, 2010 at 6:09 am

I love using my hands as well. Though I prefer my stand mixer, when I have time I enjoy the quiet peace that comes over me when I mix by hand. My favorite by ‘hand dishes’ are polenta and aioli. Chopping is calming, too.

I love my stand mixers – I have 2 KitchenAids and if I had room I’d get a third one.

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Jenn June 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Two stand mixers! I guess I just don’t bake enough!

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Ciaochowlinda June 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Strangely, I’ve whipped egg whites by hand (and it was a pain) but not cream, which is easier. Your dessert looks scrumptious.

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Jenn June 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Ha yes cream is def. easier! Thank you :)

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ProcrastinatorCook July 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

This is my first time making pavlova’s I have been thinking of making them for a while now. some of the recipes out there just skip to the part where you beat the whites and sugar together, can I do that or I shouldn’t skip step No. 1?

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Jenn July 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm

It depends on the type of meringue you use – the technique of heating the egg whites and sugar together over water (called a bain marie) is typical of a Swiss meringue – the heat helps stabilize the egg whites somewhat and helps prevent the meringue from weeping. It’s a little simpler than the Italian method which requires you to add in a hot sugar syrup into the egg whites. Meringues with no heating step are the French meringue method, which is the most common technique I have come across. If you choose to do the French method (i.e. skip the heating), you should double check the sugar to egg white ratios – I’m not positive but they may differ depending on the type of meringue you make and thus I can’t really guarantee that the sugar/egg white ratio listed in the recipe above would be suitable for other methods – also, some French meringues include the addition of cornstarch to help the sugar dissolve into the egg whites a little better.

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ProcrastinatorCook July 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thank you so much for your lengthy and very informative reply! I will be making your recipe, hopefully this week … I am looking forward to it … First time baking a pavlova :D wish me luck…

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