Last weekend I made Tocinillo de cielo. The original recipe required 12 egg yolks, but I didn’t want or need that much tocinillo, so I halved the recipe and use only 6 egg yolks, ending up with 6 egg whites that were perfect for a Pavlova.
I must say I’m not 100% pleased with its appearance, but it tastes really good. The recipe I followed was one given to me by my dear friend Tere, from Chile, with the sole variation that I used 6 egg whites instead of 4.
The filling was a coat of condensed milk with lemon juice, then some sliced strawberries and finally some whipped cream, but you may add any other fruit that is in season.
This dessert is believed to have been created in honor of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in 1926, but for me it always is going to be Tere’s Pavlova.
- 4 large egg whites
- 250 g sugar (preferably superfine/castor sugar)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
- Whipping cream
- Fresh fruit of your choice
- Condensed milk with lemon juice, etc.
Preheat oven to 130 ºC (266 ºF) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Beat in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.) You can make several individual meringues instead.
Bake for 5 minutes at 130 ºC, then turn down the temperature to 120 ºC (248 ºF) and continue baking for 50 more minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. Accordingly to Australian Stephanie Alexander “if syrupy droplets form on the surface of the meringue, you’ll know you have overcooked it; liquid oozing from the meringue is a sign of undercooking” (The Cook’s Companion).
Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (at least three hours or overnight). The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
After dressed, serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.
Serves 6 to 8.