Strawberry Pavlova

We have a wonderful friend from New Zealand and when she comes to visit, she sometimes brings a pavlova for dessert.  A popular dessert in New Zealand and Australia, hers has been a favorable introduction to this dessert.  It’s also a great springtime dessert and with strawberries just coming into season, I thought it would be nice to serve to guests.  I found this recipe in the New York Times – it’s the first time I’ve made it and it was a hit so I’m sharing it with you.  Easy enough for me, you can do it too!  My advice is to trust the recipe, particularly when baking the meringue.

FOR THE MERINGUE:

4 egg whites

pinch of salt

1 1/4 cup superfine sugar (Caster sugar also works)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

a few drops of vanilla extract

FOR THE TOPPING:

1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons superfine sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a circle on the paper using an 8 inch cake pan as a guide.  Flip the parchment over so the pencil marking is facing down (this ensures that the pencil won’t transfer to the meringue).  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and salt.  Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to high.  Continue until satiny peaks begin to form; gradually beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny.  Sprinkle in cornstarch, white-wine vinegar and vanilla, and fold in gently.

Mound onto parchment within circle, and shape into a disk, flattening top and smoothing sides.  Place in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 300 degrees.  Bake 1 hour 15 minutes.  Turn off heat, and allow meringue to cool completely in oven.

To prepare topping:  in a mixing bowl, combine strawberries, vanilla, balsamic vinegar and sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

To serve, carefully peel off parchment and place meringue on a platter or cake stand.  Gently crack the top with the back of a soup spoon to make a shallow nest for the whipped cream and berries.  Whip cream until it is thick enough to hold peaks, and spoon it evenly over meringue.  Cover cream with strawberries, allowing a small amount of their liquid to dribble onto cream.  Serve immediately.

Credit:  New York Times

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