A pavlova is probably the easiest dessert to whip up. It is at once elegant and casual.
Its strength rests on the sweetest and best local strawberries you can get. I found mine at the Nelson Park Farmers' Market, held every Saturday during summer in Vancouver's West End.
To make this dessert, start by preheating your oven to 200 F. This low temperature keeps the pavlova snow white.
Clean, hull and slice your sweet, succulent red strawberries (as above).
Separate whites of two large eggs. Beat the egg whites until foamy then gradually add half a cup of sugar while beating. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until you have barely stiff peaks when the beater is raised.
Pile the resulting meringue onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. With the back of a spoon, form a mild depression on the centre. Sprinkle the meringue with icing sugar. This is to help the meringue dry up. Pop the meringue in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off and let the meringue stay in the oven for another 30 minutes or so.
This will bake into a puffed "bowl" that you can easily transfer to a serving plate:
Whip some cream. (Note: the link shows whipping cream in a cold bath, which I usually dispense with).
Pile the cream onto the meringue.
Then top with strawberries.
- When making the meringue make sure there is no trace of yolk in the separated whites, and that the bowl and beating utensils you will use are scrupulously clean and free of grease.
- You do not want this meringue to be dry and hard through. Bake it only until it is dry on the outside and the sides separate easily from the parchment but the inside is still slightly soft. To check, press on the centre: the crust should shatter and yield a dry but soft interior.
- I took the above pictures with my iPhone 3GS since my camera broke this month. Not bad quality photos for blogging, I think, after some mild post-processing to adjust lighting and hue.
- The type of meringue used here is the French variety, which is uncooked. For an exposition on other types of meringue, particularly the Swiss kind, see this link.