I discovered the desert Pavlova through a recipe in a british women's magazine and it's become a favorite in my family.
For those who don't know it, it's a slightly chewy meringue base with macerated strawberries and whipped cream on top, light and delicate as the ballerina it was named after. (Though i suggest looking at the youtubes of Pavlova dancing - she was nothing like the skinny ballerinas of today, but she had a style...)
Anyway, the meringue base calls for light brown sugar, 4 eggwhites and vanilla and then you beat in a tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tsp of vinegar.
It's such a small quantity of each - the cornstarch and the vinegar - that i wonder what they're supposed to do. Also the 2 teaspoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of cornstarch, as if saying a tbsp of each would come out bad! When i see such precision, i assume there is a reason, but maybe the author's mother just made it that way and so she described it!
I also wonder why the base is chewy - if that was intentional or an accident. I do like the constrasts of crispy-light and chewy and creamy fluffiness, as well as that of the sweetness and the tartness of the whole. But it is harder to do a crispy large meringue than a crispy small one, so maybe that was accidental? Anyone know the real origin?
Someday i'll make one without vinegar and cornstarch just to see, but maybe someone actually knows the answer.