Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Strawberry Pavlova Perfecto!

For M's birthday (2) this year, L and I decided to make a pavlova.

Pavlova is an Australian/New Zealand dessert. I first had it when I spent a semester in Australia back in 1998. A wonderful pastor and his family had some of us students over for dinner and pavlova was the dessert they served. The entire meal was an experience- I seem to remember that we ate kangaroo and some other wild game- but I can still taste that crispy pavlova with a creamy, puddingy filling, topped with kiwi (of course) and other delicious fruits.

I've adapted several recipes to make a family size pavlova. I used my grandmother's recipe for Berries on a Cloud for the basic filling.  I liked this fancier recipe, though I didn't have champagne vinegar. I preferred this recipe for the photos and step by step instructions (though it referred to rosewater that isn't listed in the ingredients). Plus, she made one large meringue instead of several smaller portions, which I liked for a birthday.

Two Layer Birthday Pavlova with Strawberries
  • Meringue:
  • 8 large egg whites (eggs should be room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (or meringue powder)
  • 2 teaspoons white or champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Filling:
  • 2 cups cold whipping cream
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract 
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional)
  • Berry topping:
  • Strawberries (we used about 4 cups of sliced berries)
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (we used 2 for 8 cups of berries so we had some for later)
  • scant 1/4 cup sugar
1.  Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment on them for the meringue.
2.    Beat the egg whites and salt with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or an electric beater until thick soft peaks form. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Beat in the sugar, a scattered spoonful or two at a time, until the meringue is stiff. (this takes time!)
3. Gently fold vinegar and vanilla into the meringue. (this makes it nice and shiny)
4. Divide meringue between the two pans, spreading it out to form two roundish circles. Place pans in oven and turn oven down to 300. Bake for an hour and a half, or until meringue is puffed and dry. Turn off oven, open the door, and allow pavlova to cool in oven.
5. While the meringue is baking, combine strawberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and lime zest and juice in a bowl. Set aside to macerate 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
6. To make the filling, whip cream, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar (optional) until thick.
7. When meringue is cool move one to a serving platter. Top with half of the cream mixture. Gently place the second meringue on top of the cream. Spread the rest of the cream mixture on top and then pile on the juicy strawberries. Add candles as required!

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