A nod to his homeland of Australia, James Beard House featured chef Craig Hopson created a pavlova fit for discriminating palates from Sydney to St Louis. The tender yet crisp meringue gives way to a rich blend of bananas and cream.
6 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Banana Whipped Cream
4 cups heavy cream
2 overripe banana (must be very soft, the peel should be almost black)
2 tablespoons sugar
Sliced fresh banana, optional
Candied citrus zest, optional
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees F.
Prepare at least four 2-inch to 3-inch ring molds by lining the inside with parchment paper, allowing about ½-inch of the paper hang over the top of the mold. In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt. Gradually add in the sugar. When the whites are firm, add the vanilla essence and the vinegar and combine before adding 3 tablespoons of the fennel and the cornstarch. Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag or a one-gallon ziplock bag, snipping off one corner. Pipe into the ring molds then dust the tops with the remaining fennel.
Bake for 1½ hours, until meringue feels dry and hollow. Place on their sides to cool so that the bottoms of the pavlovas will dry. Remove molds.
In the meantime, make the filling. Place the heavy cream, bananas, and sugar in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip until stiff.
To serve, fill the hollow inside of each pavlova with the banana mixture and place on each plate.
Decorate with sliced fresh bananas and candied citrus zest, if desired.
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