Michele: For a while I've been thinking about a series of posts called Australian Good Ideas -- things that we encountered in Australia that we think are good ideas. They are not going to be ranked in any way, just posted as we get to it. -
#1: Pavlova (aka Pav for Aussies who must shorten everything)
While Lorna was here she rhapsodized about this dessert with Larry and Correen. We Americans were in the dark until Larry and Coreen revealed plans to make a Pavlova one night while they, Kristen and Cindy were visiting. This is the cake photoed here and you can see by Robin's reaction that we were instantly delighted. The cake itself is a light meringue. It is very hard to make yourself so grocery stores sell the meringue base in various sizes. Then you whip up some heavy cream to spread over the cake and decorate with fruit. My favorite so far is strawberries and passion fruit. Ahh, passionfruit! I may have to devote an entire blog to passionfruit at some point.
The cake is light and moderately sweet, which suits me just fine. You could make it sweeter by adding more sugar to the whipped cream. The bottom of the meringue base undergoes some sort of magic process where it gets really sweet and crunchy. This probably has to do with sugar settling to the bottom, but I'm going to keep thinking it is magic. This crunchy base is the best part of the Pavlova. When part of the base accidentally drops off a piece, our family fights over the rights to this bit. I think that the server should get the left over crunchy bits, don't you?
Pavlova is so named because the light cake is reminiscent of the tutu of legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova. She had toured down under in the 1920s and the dessert was developed shortly after. Now there are two stories to the origin of Pavlova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlova_%28food%29). The Aussies claim that an Aussie in Perth developed it, while the Kiwis claim that a Kiwi developed the idea. Wikipedia supports the Kiwi claim but I will not risk being ostracized by my Aussie family, friends and neighbors by supporting this. It was the bloke in Perth!