Pavlova is always a good idea. Whether it’s for festive feasting, family gatherings or just because… pavlova, the marvellous meringue is a staple on dessert tables Down Under, and though it appears infrequently on our own, it’s always been a favourite of the kids. With my ooky spooky duo busy conjuring up cobwebs for Halloween, they’ve requested we add my my fruity, fearsome Day of the Dead pavlova to this year’s freaky Halloween feast, again.
The kids have always been batty about Halloween, but over the past few years, thanks in no small part to gorgeous animated movies such as ‘Book of Life’ and ‘Coco”, they’ve also developed something of a soft spot for Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). And there’s a lot to love about the centuries old Mexican tradition. It’s believed that the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolves on the Day of the Dead (celebrated each year from October 31- November 2) and families welcome back their late loved ones with a candlelit fiesta of food, flowers and drink.
My culturally curious twosome have read up and researched the celebration – a unique combination of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture that celebrates the dead, rather than fearing them. Death isn’t seen as the end of one’s life but as a natural part of its cycle and that the souls of one’s family travel home to join in the Day of the Dead festivities.
And with the utmost respect to Mexican culture, they kids have started to replicate some of its rituals at home. This doesn’t mean just nibbling on sugar skulls or scoffing tacos , although those will no doubt be on the menu given the kids love of them, and there may be a celebratory margarita or two also involved. But with two much missed souls to celebrate they’re setting up a colourful little altar with photos, flowers and ofrendas (offerings) for their grandparents, who they are determined will not be forgotten. And what better way to remember her grandparents than with a Día de los Muertos pavlova, asked Sugarpuff? It certainly adds an Antipodean twist to the occasion.
With Halloween and the Day of the Dead falling on the same date, and both celebrations involving costumes, skeletons, graveyards and tasty treats, it was Sugarpuff’s sweet imagination who last year first came up with idea of turning a pavlova into a sugar skull, because there’s no dessert as sugary as a pavlova.
So together we turned her creative vision into a tasty reality whipping up a crispy white meringue with a fluffy marshmallow soft centre and smothering it in layers of cream and decorative fruit. The result was a smash hit at our annual spook fest and was suitably cooed over before being demolished by our ravenous guests.
Here, we’re sharing our Mexican twist on everyone’s favourite Aussie (or Kiwi if you’re so inclined) dessert, with our recipe for Day of the Dead pavlova.
Top tips for a perfect pavlova
- Ensure your whisking bowl and whisk are both completely dry before you start as moisture prevents egg white from aerating.
- Make sure your eggs are as fresh as possible.
- Separate the eggs very carefully, as even a tiny bit of yolk can ruin the mix.
- Bring the whites to room temperature before whisking.
- To keep your egg white light, beat in the caster sugar slowly. Beating it in too fast can deflate the mixture.
- Don’t overbeat your mixture after adding the sugar, as this can cause your meringue to crack and collapse during baking.