Strawberries and Cream Pavlova
This week’s gem for From My Kitchen Friday (now up on my Instagram stories!) is a perennial favorite. I always find it incredibly morbid when people talk about their “last meal on Earth”, but if faced with the question, after rolling my eyes a little, I would have to say that pavlova would be the sweet punctuation on that menu for me. Particularly with loads of fresh July strawberries (as beautiful as multi-fruit pavs are in photos, I prefer a single fruit for the topping to help play up the heavenly, simple magic of sugary, crisp meringue shell, marshmallowy interior, piles of fresh cream, and a firm, sweet and tart seasonal fruit).
My top tips for a great pavlova include using a bit of confectioners’ sugar in addition to granulated, grinding said granulated sugar into superfine using a coffee grinder or food processor, and using an oven thermometer to make sure your fav bakes/dries out low and slow. I made my most recent pavlovas on one of the most humid weeks of the entire summer, which leads to a few more cracks than normal, but as long as you tack on a little extra drying time and make sure the shell cools completely in the closed oven, it will still be wildly impressive, and devoured in no time.
Strawberries and Cream Pavlova
Serves about 8
For the meringue shell:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup/200 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup/30 g confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine or white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the strawberries:
1 pound/453 g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
For the cream:
1 1/2 cups/360 g heavy cream, chilled
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated or confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace an 8-inch circle onto it.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until very foamy and just barely holding a shape, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the superfine sugar a tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until the meringue is glossy and holds a firm shape, about 3 minutes more. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar, and add the vinegar and vanilla extract. Fold gently to blend.
Pile the meringue onto the baking sheet and shape into a rustic round. Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 250°F. Bake until crisp and dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Do not open the oven door while baking! Use the light if you’re a checker, like me.) Turn off the oven and let the meringue cool completely in the closed oven.
Make the strawberries: In a medium bowl, combine the berries, sugar, and vinegar. Stir well and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day ahead, stirring occasionally.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream with sugar to taste and the vanilla.
Place the meringue shell on a large serving platter. Spoon on the whipped cream, and top with strawberries. Serve immediately.