I reguarly am told by friends that I am an intimidating person to cook for. That I’m picky, (only true when I’m making it, if someone else cooks for me I’m over the moon happy!) that my food is always pretty (well I’m flattered really, but honest my non blog food is pretty non pretty) and that I don’t screw things up. Well the last one is a terribly terribly misconception.
Let the records show that I, Claire Lassam, have made some terrible meals. Terrible!
A great/tragic example of this was on Valentines Day. I came home to an amazing meal. Jordan had braised lamb, and made a wild mushroom risotto, and sauteed brocollini (my favourite!) and had put an excessive amount of love into the meal.
For my part I had found fresh passionfruit at a local market that deffinately does not usually sell fresh passionfruit and thought, perfect! Passionfruit curd on a pavlova. Simple, light, perfect.
Only my pavlova was hard as a rock, and with my terrible oven starting to brown, and the curd was overwhelmingly sweet. It was, absolutely, inedible.
So last weekend, when I was at Jordan’s parents place to make them an early Father’s Day dinner, (which is to say that I was in the presence of a properly working oven) and I couldn’t find the flour (of course it was there but I found it too late) and I had loads of rhubarb (pleasantly acidic) I decided to try a round two.
This time, I had a couple tricks up my sleeve. Mostly, instead of getting it off Martha, which does normally have good recipes, I got it off Smitten Kitchen, because she said she had tried two recipes and had made a master recipe that was perfect. And also because I love Smitten Kitchen and nearly everything she makes is brilliant. Also, an Australian friend told me that, when in doubt, keep whipping, and I did and it turned out very well.
And it is brilliant. It’s a light crisp exterior that leads the way to a marshmallowy centre. Marshmallowy. I don’t think I need to say any thing else except that with whipped cream and rhoasted rhubarb, this is not only a showy and incredibly good dessert, but also a very simple dessert, and those are the best kind in my books.
4 large (120 grams) egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor) or regular sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder
6 stalks of rhubarb
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 225F
Whisk together your egg whites and your salt until soft peaks, using an electric mixer, unless you have incredibly strong arms and a great amount of determination, in which case, do it by hand.
Slowly add in the sugar and cornstarch, tablespoon by tablespoon until all of it is incorporated. Then keep whipping. Aren’t sure if it’s glossy enough? Keep whipping. Does is hold stiff enough peaks? Keep whipping. Basically keep whipping and whipping for a long time, until it is very glossy, and very stiff.
On a parchment lined pan spread the meringue out into a circle with an inverted spatula, i made mine about 10 inches wide.
Put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. If it starts to get brown turn the oven down, if it starts to crack turn the oven off. Once it feels firm to the touch but still has some give inside of it crack the oven open, turn the oven off and let it cool completely inside.
In the meantime, take your rhubarb and cut it into one inch pieces. Lay it on a parchment lined baking sheet and pour sugar over top. Once your pavlova has cooled, crank the oven up to 400F and put the rhubarb in until it is soft but still holds it’s shape, about 15-20 minutes.
Transfer the meringue onto your serving tray.
Blob heaps of the whipped cream on top, and then dollop the rhubarb on top of that. Don’t be shy with the rhubarb, you need lots to balance it out.
And if you’ve done everything right you get marshmallowy goodness.And you get happiness.