Luscious strawberry pavlova

Embark on a delicious foray to the world of meringue.

Large pavlova (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Large pavlova
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Summer is the best time of year to serve desserts made with meringue, especially if you add luscious, fresh fruit on top. But first you need to learn how to make a proper meringue, which is made from whipped egg whites and sugar. There are three types: French, Italian and Swiss.
French meringue is the easiest and simplest to prepare. You whip the egg whites until they’re stiff, then add the sugar and continue whipping. Alternatively, you could fold in the sugar. This type of meringue should be baked at a low temperature (90-100°) for many hours.
To prepare Italian meringue, you whip the egg whites and then, while still whipping, add hot liquid sugar that is precisely between 117-120°. Another method is to cook the sugar and water until it turns into a rubbery syrup. The hot syrup sort of cooks the egg whites while they’re being whipped and make the meringue come out more solid and crunchier.
In the Swiss method, you heat the egg whites and sugar together over a bain marie until sugar dissolves. Then you transfer the egg-sugar mixture to bowl of a mixer and whip on high speed. This type of meringue is very solid and great to use as decoration, and also can be baked at higher temperatures.
You can add a variety of toppings, such as coconut, hazelnuts, peanuts or almonds. Below, I bring you three recipes to make pavlova. The origin of the name comes from a Russian ballerina named Anna Pavlova, who visited New Zealand in 1926 on her world tour, and this special cake was prepared in her honor. An Australian writer, however, sites an earlier recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling,” thereby claiming that pavlova was originally an Australian concoction.
Either way, the delicious pavlova is a cake that is made with a crunchy baked meringue base that is soft inside. It can be prepared freestyle, or as disks, or as a flat base in a pan. You can also form little bowls that can be filled later with cream and fruit.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Large pavlova
■ 6 egg whites (medium size) at room temperature
■ Pinch of salt
■ 3 cups powdered sugar
■ 1 tsp. quality vanilla extract
■ 1 tsp. vinegar
For cream topping:
■ 300 ml. sweet whipping cream
■ ½ cup powdered sugar
■ 400 g wild berries
Preheat oven to 150°. Line a tray with baking paper.
Pour egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the salt and whip on medium speed. While mixing, increase speed and gradually add powdered sugar. Continue whipping until firm and smooth. Fold in vanilla and vinegar.
Using a spatula, transfer the meringue to the tray and mold into whatever shape you desire. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave pavlova inside oven with the door closed for one hour.
With an electric mixer, whip sweet cream with powdered sugar until firm. After meringue has cooled, pour or drizzle cream on top, then arrange fruit on top of cream and serve.
Individualized pavlova
You can make whatever creative and fun shapes you want.
Makes 10-12 individualized bowls, depending on diameter.
■ 4 egg whites from No. 2 eggs
■ ²⁄3 cup sugar
■ ²⁄3 cup powdered sugar
■ 2 cups strawberries, halved
■ Strawberry sauce
■ 1 cup milk
■ 1 tsp quality vanilla extract
■ 4 egg whites
■ ¼ cup sugar
■ 3 Tbsp. vanilla pudding powder (or cornflour)
Muffin tray or 18cm diameter round pan
To make the meringue, add egg whites and half of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on medium speed. While mixing, increase speed and add rest of sugar, plus powdered sugar. Continue whipping until firm and smooth.
Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a jagged edge attachment, and squeeze out spirals on the baking paper or in the muffin holes. Squeeze out meringue on sides of pan so that the meringue will come out with the shape of a pie crust. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 100° for 3-4 hours until meringue is firm and dry.
To prepare the vanilla cream, pour milk and vanilla extract into a pot and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, add egg yolks, sugar and vanilla pudding or cornflour. Add the boiling milk while whisking quickly and then bring back to a boil. Continue cooking for 15-20 minutes until mixture thickens and then remove from flame. Let cool completely and store in fridge.
The prepare the pavlova, place the meringue pie shell on a serving dish, pour the cream on top and put in the fridge to set. Just before serving, arrange the strawberry pieces on top of the cream, and then add whipped cream with a nice plump strawberry on top.
Classic pavlova
Makes 12-14 individualized meringues, depending on size
■ 120 gr. egg whites (from 3-4 large eggs)
■ 120 gr. (²⁄3 cup) sugar
■ 120 gr. (²⁄3 cup) powdered sugar
Seasonal fruit, sliced; or strawberries, halved Whipped cream; or strawberry syrup
■ 1¼ cups milk
■ ½ vanilla bean
■ 4 egg yolks
■ ¹⁄3 cup sugar
■ 2 heaping Tbsp. cornflour
To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 100°. Add the egg whites and a little sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on medium speed. While continuing to whip, add the rest of the sugar and powdered sugar, and whip until firm and smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a jagged edge attachment and squeeze out spirals along the base of a 2-cm.-high pan. Squeeze out meringue on the side of the pan so that it will form the shape of a pie shell. Bake for 4 hours or more until meringue is completely dry.
To prepare cream, add milk and vanilla bean to a pot and bring to a boil over medium flame. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour and then add the boiling milk while whisking quickly and bring to a boil again. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes until mixture thickens and then remove from flame. Transfer mixture to a bowl to cool and then cover with plastic wrap. Store in fridge.
To prepare pavlova, place meringue on a serving dish and pour vanilla cream on top. Let cool for a few minutes. Before serving, sprinkle pieces of fruit or strawberries on top of vanilla cream and then cover with whipped cream. Drizzle with strawberry syrup. Serve cold.