Anna Pavlova was a famous Russian ballerina in the late 19th and early 20th century. Her frame was smaller than the typical ballerina, including her feet. Standing “en pointe” was difficult with such small, curved feet. To help curve the box shape of the shoe, she placed a piece of wood on the soles of her shoes. At the time, it was considered “cheating” because ballerinas were supposed to rely on their feet, not their shoes. Nevertheless, her clever idea eventually became the precursor to the modern pointe shoe.
As we consider our theme of security, standing “en pointe” is extremely difficult for someone without being stabilized. In Pavlova’s case, it was her redesigned pointe shoe that strengthened her stand on her tiny toes. When she toured New Zealand in the mid 1920’s, a hotel chef created a dessert in her honor: meringue baked until the outside is crunchy and the inside is softer. Topped with freshly whipped cream and peak season fruit, it’s the quintessential dessert of soft elegance, seasonality, and great ease.
The meringue base of the dessert only has 3 core ingredients: egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar. Meringue’s critical success comes from whether the whipped whites have been stabilized with an acidic ingredient such as cream of tartar. It changes the electric charge on the protein of the egg whites, slowing the protein’s ability to join together, allowing a stronger web to form around the air foam bubbles. The stronger the web, the more it is able to bear gravity and retain moisture. Without a stabilizer, whipped egg whites will begin “weeping” moisture, deflating, and become soggy.
What a way to imagine our hearts! Whipped egg whites need a stabilizer just as we need a stabilizer. If not, we will weep and collapse – literally and figuratively! Who then is our stabilizer?
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” -Matthew 8:24-27
Let us then look to Jesus Christ, our great stabilizer, who has secured our way to God. Far surpassing Anna Pavlova’s dessert as well as her magnificent stand “en pointe” is our invitation to stand secured “in Christ.”
4 egg whites (no yolk!) at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar or extra fine sugar + 4 tablespoons
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
seasonal fruit (pomegranate seeds in the fall or winter)
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a large, clean and cool bowl (not plastic), beat egg whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Continue to beat until the soft-peak stage.
3. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time while continue mixing at medium speed. Do this until very stiff peaks form.
4. Drop spoonfuls of meringue onto a the baking sheets evenly, making six piles. Gently push the meringue down in the center of each pile using the back of the spoon – like a nest.
5. Bake for about 1 hour or so. Be sure to rotate sheet from top to bottom and from side to side. Turn off oven and leave meringues there for 2-3 hours, until dry. Cool completely.
6. Whip cream with vanilla and remaining sugar until soft, pillow-like peaks. Top each nest with cream, followed by berries and serve immediately.
Serves 6 ~Lauren