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February 27, 2011

*Note: See all my “Sweet Saturday” posts here.

My Mother-in-law, Claire, is from New Zealand. She’s lived here almost 35 years now, so her half Texan/half Kiwi accent has caused people from both the USA and New Zealand to ask her where she’s from. I love her accent. Especially the way she says “garage” (rhymes with carriage), “rubbish” instead of trash – and when she asks me to open the “boot” of the car instead of the trunk. She is a phenomenal woman – in the true Maya Angelou sense – and she has taught me a lot. In a world where the term “in-law” can carry a negative connotation, my experience has been nothing but enrichment. In fact, I sometimes don’t know who I love more – my husband or his parents. Haha, just kidding (but only a little).


One Kiwi tradition that Claire has taught me is how to make a Pavlova: a meringue-like dessert that originated in New Zealand. According to Wikipedia:


Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova.  Colloquially referred to as “pav”, it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honor of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the more probable source.

The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals.


So there you have it. Our good friend, Paul, who has a strong affinity for Pavlova has said eating the dessert is “like biting into a cloud.” And so, I’ll dedicate this Sweet Saturday post to the sugary cloud of happiness: The Pavlova.

One important thing to note: The trick of the Pavlova is making sure you beat the egg whites until they’re stiff enough. If not, the Pav falls flat – which mine did today. However, it still tastes good – it’s just not perfect. Nonetheless, here’s how you make it.



Claire’s Pavlova

4 egg whites

1 1/2 cups of sugar

pinch cream of tartar

2 tbsp. water

1 tsp. malt vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tsp. heaped cornflower (cornstarch)



Beat egg whites until really stiff with cream of tartar. Add water. Add sugar gradually 1/4 c. at a time. Stir in the last 1/2 c. of sugar, cornflour, and other ingredients.



Place on aluminum foil (shiny side up).

Place in 300 degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave for 1/2 hour more.

Peel off foil.

Cover meringue with unsweetened whipped cream and fruit. (The Pav itself is so sweet, you don’t need to sweeten the cream)


Full disclosure: Remember how I said mine fell flat today? Well, here’s a better “after pic” from last time I made it. (Even if it is taken on the iPhone!)



Serve to your family, friends, and guests and ask them if it’s like biting into a cloud.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christabel permalink
    February 27, 2011 10:03 pm

    amazing Lauren- your comments about Claire are soooo true -I met her when I was 8 years old and she is the most wonderful person. I think your pav looks pretty impressive, you must be a most apt pupil!

  2. Morgan permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:13 am

    I love Claire! She is a fantastic woman!

  3. Sue permalink
    March 1, 2011 12:17 pm

    How funny, I learned to make Pavlova from Claire’s mom, Eve, when she was staying with us several years ago. Haven’t made it in years but what a good reminder…..a great dessert for Tom who really has to watch his diet and salt. Thanks!!

  4. Emily permalink
    March 8, 2011 3:26 pm

    Mmmm. My fave dessert…and one of my fave people (Claire)!
    I’ve found much more success making pavs here in the dry Colorado air than in humid Houston. I look forward to berry picking season every year so I have another excuse to make pavlova. Yummy!

    Hope you’re doing well, friend. Miss you guys!

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