Looking to make a big impact for Halloween or Day of the Dead? Try this Day of the Dead Pavlova! Celebrate Mexican style with this colourful celebration for lost loved ones. It's so much easier than it looks and can be done ahead of time and this colourful Día de Muertos pavlova is as delicious as it is joyful. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader! I called her Guadalupe.
Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd. It has its origins in Mexico and it is where people celebrate the spirits of their loved ones that have passed. It is a joyful, life-affirming celebration with colourful decorations and humorous, affectionate stories told about the dearly departed. Some call it a family reunion where the guests of honour just happen to be dead! People celebrate their passed ones by visiting their graves, having picnics at cemeteries, constructing altars with offerings and baking Pan de Muerto (“Bread of the Dead”) or making sugar skulls. To be honest this sounds like the perfect way to be remembered. While Día de Muertos isn't "Mexican Halloween", the two events are often combined because they're celebrated at around the same time.
I first saw this on Boy Eats World blog and they did such a great job with it that I had to try it for myself. I was so paranoid that my pavlova wouldn't work that I ended up making three of them. The first one used six egg whites and was a bit too thin and then the second used 8 egg whites and that was perfect. Then I made a third one just in case but that strictly wasn't necessary.
Tips for making this Day of the Dead Pavlova
1 - A Bake Snake helps to make a skull mold. I recommend buying a bake snake if you make a lot of cakes or novelty cakes as it comes in handy. This will still work without one though!
2 - Make the pavlova base a day or two ahead of time. Even 3-4 days is fine. I covered it and stored it in the fridge.
3 - Use room temperature egg whites and ensure there is no yolk at all in the whites
4 - Always make sure that your bowls and whisk are clean and have no traces of oil as this will prevent your pavlova from whipping up high.
5 - Do not open the oven while you are baking your pavlova.
6 - You can decorate your pavlova and cover it earlier in the day and store it in the fridge.
I served this cake at my Halloween party just as we were about to play a game of charades and everyone seemed to enjoy having a little bit of sugar before the game. This year Miss America remembered which team he was on which was the first time ever and Lutz played his very first game of charades. It's funny how some people really get into charades while others find it completely debilitating acting out something in front of other people but I think adding some sugar into the mix is like alcohol and helps somewhat. Generally Halloween is really a sugared up event especially for kids and this year we will probably have our very own trick or treaters at our house.
"How will they know to come?" asked Mr NQN.
"We have to decorate our house!" I said to him. We bought lots of things like fake cobwebs, "do not cross" signs, fake spiders and signs pointing them towards our house. I also bought bags and bags of individually wrapped chocolate bars and lollies although I had no idea how much to buy. And so we wait for our very first trick or treaters!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have any tips for trick or treaters? Do they ever come to see you? And do you get into the spirit of charades?
Day Of The Dead Halloween Pavlova
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours best made 1-2 days ahead of time
Serves: 10-12 people
- 240g/8ozs egg whites (around 8 large eggs), room temperature
- 330g/11.6ozs caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1.5 tablespoons cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 1.5 teaspoons white vinegar
- 400ml/14flozs. cream
- 4 tablespoons caster or superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- Fresh fruit to decorate (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwifruit, pineapple rings, mango and a few small mint leaves)
Note: please make sure that your mixing bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean. I often wash them just to make sure. If there is a bit of grease or oil your pavlova won't whip up stiff enough.
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with parchment. Trace a skull onto the parchment around 20cm/8 inches long. I use a silicon bake snake (no need to grease this) to make the shape and use two small ramekins to hold it into place. If you don't have a bake snake the pavlova will still work but it just helps to keep the pavlova in the shape.
Step 2 - Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer along with the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks. Then add the sugar gradually pouring it in in a steady stream. Then add the cornflour and vinegar. Keep whisking until you get thick, glossy peaks. You know when it is ready when you can tip the bowl upside down and the meringue doesn't move.
Step 3 - Scoop into the prepared tray and place in the oven. Turn the heat immediately down to 150C/302F and bake for 1 hour. Then reduce heat 130C/266F and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven.
Step 4 - Whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form adding in the vanilla at the last 10 seconds. You want it firm enough to hold but not grainy. Spread over the pavlova. Don't worry if some of the crispy top comes off just spread the cream on top of it. Smooth down with an angled spatula. Then decorate with fruit. I made the eyes out of pineapple rings, kiwi fruit, raspberries and blueberries. Then the mouth was made of blueberries, a nose out of a strawberry end slice and details using mango and mint. Decorate with flowers.