What’s Baking at Third Coast Review? A Gluten-Free Tea Party!
A Gluten-Free Tea PartyWe made: Mini-Pavlovas with seasonal fruit, “shortcut” chantilly cream and handmade lemon curd (recipes below); three kinds of mini-bundt cakes (lemon ginger, chocolate hazelnut and cardamom orange spice); rice krispie treats (in the bride’s wedding colors), mini banana breads and last-minute cake jars. We purchased assorted macarons and chocolates from a local bakery and candy store. Mini-Pavlovas Pavlovas were named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. As the original story goes, the chef of a Wellington hotel at the time created the delicate dessert to honor her, its meringue and cream layers referencing her tutu. Because they are naturally gluten free and can feature a variety of different fruits and berries, they are an ideal choice for a summer party. For the meringues, I adapted a recipe from the New York Times and miniaturized them with my frosting tips.
Mini-Pavlovas with Chantilly Cream and Seasonal FruitMeringue Ingredients
- 4 egg whites (best at room temperature)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
- A few drops vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw or trace small circles (I used a 2” diameter juice glass) about 1.5” inches apart. When you’re done, flip over paper so the pencil lead doesn’t transfer to your pastry. I used two half baking sheets for this.
- Separate eggs. Set yolks aside.
- Using a stand mixer, mix the egg whites and salt on low (gradually increasing speed to high) until you get satiny peaks.
- Keeping the mixer on high, gradually spoon in the sugar until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
- Stop mixer. Sprinkle cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla on top of mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold these in.
- Using a pastry bag and number 8 or 10 round piping tip, put meringue mixture gently into bag.
- Starting at the center of each circle on your parchment paper, pipe meringue mixture in a spiral until you make a small circle and continue to pipe a ledge on the outer edge of each pavlova.
- Put meringues in the oven and lower temperature immediately to 300 F.
- Bake for one hour then turn off oven and vent the door.
- Let cool inside vented oven until completely cool.
- 1 8 oz. tub of each: Mascarpone & Creme Fraiche
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Put all the dairy products into a mixer bowl.
- Using the whisk attachment, whip creams on low, gradually increasing the speed.
- Add a few drops of vanilla and sugar to taste. (This is best if it’s not overly sweet and maintains a bit of sourness to offset the sweetness of the meringue.)
- Whip to medium peaks.
- Just before you are ready to serve, place meringues gently on a serving platter. (They are delicate, so handle them gingerly.)
- Spread a layer of curd inside the ledge you piped.
- Spread a layer of chantilly cream over that.
- Arrange and place thinly-sliced fruits or berries on meringues.
- Serve immediately.
JT Newman (she/they) is a food and cultural reviewer, home chef and media maven who has been writing for a variety of Chicago publications for more than 25 years. They were one of the founders of Third Coast Review in 2015 and were a regular contributor to Gaper’s Block, Nightspots and Windy City Times. Their work has been published in the Chicago Not-For-Tourists Guide, A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago, and Windy City Queer. They host a weekly queer food podcast, Lez Eat, available on Apple and Spotify, among others.