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Individual pavlovas made with chocolate and bananas. Apparently both Australia and New Zealand have made claims to the creation of the pavlova, but it would seem that New Zealand has the stronger claim. Recipes for a fruit-filled meringue started to appear in New Zealand in 1926, around the same time that the ballerina Anna Pavlova was stirring popular imagination, and somehow this dish came to bear her name. Then in 1935, Bert Sachse, a chef at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, laid claims to the creation of this now classic dessert, after Anna Pavlova had stayed at the hotel! The unlikely connection with Anna Pavlova is the common thread in these two stories, and if they are to be believed, it would seem that this popular dessert has its earliest origins in New Zealand, though in Australia it is generally regarded as an Australian dessert! I have posted this recipe, from the October 2005 issue of the 'Australian Women's Weekly', for the 2005 Zaar World Tour. Pavlovas are more commonly made and served as a single fruit-filled meringue pie. This recipe is, therefore, something of a departure from the traditional pavlova in that it comprises four individual serving size pavlovas.
- Preheat the oven to very slow (120°C/100°F fan forced). Grease an oven tray. Trace four 10cm circles onto baking powder; place the paper, marked side down on a tray.
- Beat the egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually add the sugar, beating between each addition; then gently fold in the cocoa. Once you have prepared the meringue mixture, it is essential that you bake it immediately, otherwise it is prone to collapsing.
- Spread the meringue mixture inside the circles on the prepared tray, and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the meringues are firm; cool the meringues in the oven with the door ajar.
- Meanwhile whisk the cream cheese, cream and sifted icing sugar in a small bowl, until combined.
- Top the meringues with the cream cheese mixture and banana slices.
- Combine the extra sugar and the water in a small, heavy-based pan and stir over a low heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, without stirring, until the mixture is golden brown. Remove from the heat; and stand until the bubbles subside and the toffee runs evenly from the back of a spoon.
- Drizzle the meringues with the toffee close to serving.