For those who’ve yet to experience its sugary bliss, Pavlova, or “pav” as some call it, it is a meringue-based dessert that is quite similar to a cake, but with a crispy crust and soft inside. Pronounced slightly different from the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, the dessert is believed to have been named in her honor after she visited Australia and New Zealand on a tour in the 1920’s.
Although its origin is somewhat disputed (ok, passionately disputed) between Australia and New Zealand, most people credit New Zealand with the creation of this tasty treat.
Much like frosting on a cake, most Pavlovas are covered and decorated with whipped cream. A signature element is the fresh tropical and vibrant colored fruits that adorn the sides and top of the Pavlova — strawberries, passionfruit, and kiwi being some of the most commonly used fruits.
Whether you give New Zealand the win on its origin or not, Pavlova is still an important part of the country’s cuisine. When visiting New Zealand, this should be on your short list of foods to try — especially if you have a sweet tooth. Pavlova reminds me of a mixture of a meringue drop cookie and a roasted marshmallow. The crust has the hard exterior like the meringue drop, but the inside is soft and sticky, like the marshmallow topping on Thanksgiving Day yams or sweet potatoes.
New Zealand is passionate about the Pavlova and it usually makes an appearance during celebrations and special events — often in grand scale. Since 1999, New Zealand has broken its own world record in crafting the “world’s biggest Pavlova.” The most recent one was presented in Christchurch back in August, 2010. Capable of feeding 10,000 people, the 50 square meter Pavlova was made with 10,000 egg whites and more than 600 kg of sugar! The Pavlova was shaped like a rugby field to coincide with the Bledisloe Cup rugby match in Christchurch being held during the same weekend.
If you want to try your hand at making a Pavlova before visiting New Zealand, here are a couple recipes you can try at home.
- Mixed Berry Pavlova from Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa
- BBC Good Food Pavlova Recipe
- Pavlova from All Recipes
Have you tried a Pavlova in New Zealand? Please share if you have any recommendations on who makes the best Pavlova in New Zealand!
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