The Anna Pavlova

11:30 am on 4 November 2013

Anna Pavlova. When I began ballet lessons at six years old, I remember borrowing books from the library as I wanted to learn all about the world-famous ballerina loved for her ethereal grace, tutus and pointe shoes. What I didn’t know until decades later was the ethereal, delicious link to New Zealand created just for Anna’s arrival! This version, composed of airy rich Tahitian vanilla cream, regal raspberries and showers of rose petals between delicate tutu-tiered meringue, is a tribute to my first idol, and my first love - ballet.

(Serves 6 - 8)

The Anna PavlovaIngredients

Meringue Tutu Tiers

  • 3½ tsp cornstarch/cornflour
  • ½ cups superfine suga
  • ½ tsp pure Tahitian vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp raspberry vinegar
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature

Preserved Rose Petal Sauce

  • ¼ fl cup rosewater
  • 1 cup raspberries frozen, thawed
  • 3½ Tbsp grenadine
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ fl cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp pink peppercorns, cracked
  • ½ vanilla pod, split and scraped
  • 3 unsprayed pink roses,* petals separated (reserve some petals for garnish)

Tahitian Vanilla Cream

  • ¼ fl cups whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp Tahitian** vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup raspberries, fresh
  • 1 or 2 pink roses to decorate

Method

Meringue tutu tiers

Preheat oven to 275ºF/140ºC. Line 2 baking trays with foil and trace 3 circles with the edge of a spoon: 8-in/20-cm on one tray; and 6-in/15-cm and 4-in/10-cm on the other. Set aside.

Whisk cornstarch and sugar together. In another bowl, stir together vanilla and vinegars. In a clean dry bowl of a stand-mixer, or using an electric mixer, on medium speed whip the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until they hold soft peaks. Add sugar mixture 1 Tbsp at a time. When all sugar is added, beat a minute longer. Add vinegar mixture and turn to high, beating until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.

Spoon meringue inside circles, making a wide shallow bowl in the center of each. Using the back of a spoon make wavy ‘tutu’ shapes on edges. Place trays in center of oven, then turn down heat to 210ºF/100ºC. Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch (the insides will remain chewy), about 1 hour.† Keeping door closed, turn oven off, cooling meringues in oven for an hour. As meringues cool, they will crack slightly.

Preserved rose petal sauce

Place all ingredients (except petals) with a pinch of sea salt in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Strain into a jug, returning vanilla pod to sauce. Rinse pot, then fill with 2 in/5 cm of water. Bring to a boil, and add rose petals. Lower to a gentle simmer and poach for about 3 minutes, tasting a few petals to check they are no longer bitter, but softened and tender. Drain petals and stir into sauce. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Will keep chilled for 2 weeks.

Tahitian vanilla cream

In a large mixing bowl, whip cream to soft peaks, then fold in crème fraîche. Add sugar and vanilla, whipping until light and thick.

To assemble and serve

Spoon a dollop of cream in centre of serving plate to hold first meringue layer in place. Spread with a layer of cream, dot with raspberries and drizzle rose petal sauce on top. Repeat with remaining layers, drizzling extra sauce down sides. Garnish with fresh petals and serve immediately.

* Unsprayed fragrant roses from the home garden are perfect! ** Tahitian vanilla, with its pronounced flowery fragrance, balances ‘en pointe’ with the scent of rose petals.
† Baking time will vary depending on your oven.

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