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Larb Gai

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I’ve been a very delinquent blogger in recent (and not so recent) months but my husband made an impressive chestnut cream-filled pavlova for my birthday last week – and it’s definitely worth sharing. He followed my Mother’s recipe that she has used for decades of family celebrations.

What is a pavlova? Here’s the Wikipedia definition.

Meringue baking in the oven


4 large egg whites (remove any yellow yolk or brown specks that try to get in)

Cream of Tartar (¼ level tsp)

Finely ground white sugar (10 oz)

Corn starch/corn flour (1 level tsp, sift out any lumps)

Vinegar (1 tsp, white or red)

Heavy whipping cream (small carton)

Crème de marrons (1 tin) or fresh berries/fruit

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F then draw a 9-inch circle on silicone or parchment paper (using a dinner plate) and place the paper on a flat baking tray.

Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar into a stiff snow (looks like sudsy dish soap), then add half of the sugar and continue beating until meringue is very shiny and stands in high, firm peaks. (At this point, the mixture should be thick enough for the bowl to be turned upside down without anything sliding out.)

Carefully (and quickly) fold in the remaining sugar, corn starch, and vinegar; using a folding motion – not a stirring motion. It should look like pure snow. Finally, use a large spoon or spatula to pile the meringue onto the paper to cover the circle you drew earlier. For a more dramatic effect, push more meringue to the edge – so that the center is lower – and create peaks on the outer rim with your spatula (or by dipping in a spoon, twisting and slowly pulling out).

Bake in the center of the oven for at least 1 1/2 hours or until the meringue is firm on the outside and a pale biscuit color. As long as the oven is low, you cannot really over bake the meringue. If it looks as though it is turning too brown, then turn down the oven or loosely cover the browned area with baking paper. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven to dry off. Leaving it overnight is just fine.

Pavlova completely cooked

When you are ready to serve, carefully peel the paper off the bottom of the meringue and glide it onto a large serving dish. At this point, it is very brittle on the top but sticky on the bottom. If it does break up a bit, don’t worry, you can stick it together or hide cracks with the filling and it doesn’t make any difference to the taste!

Store uncovered in a dry area until you are ready; add the filling no sooner than two hours before serving. At this point it keeps quite well in the fridge.


Keep the small carton of heavy whipping cream very cold until you are ready to use it. Beat it with the electric mixer until it looks similar to the glossy meringue. Don't overbeat it or you will end up with butter!

Gently fold the crème de marrons into the whipped cream (it looks quite pretty if you leave it in swirls rather than mixing it in completely), slather the mixture all over the top of the meringue, and voila! A pavlova. My Mother adds the filling just before she serves it. However, it is always just as delicious after it’s been in the fridge for a day.

Pavlova is meringue topped with your favorite filling

If you don’t like chestnut (or can’t find it), you could try Nutella or just slice your favorite fruit over the top of the cream. A mixture of berries is a wonderful summer option or pomegranate seeds in the winter.

Serves 4-8 people depending on how much you want to keep for leftovers once your guests have left.

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