Summer Strawberry Pavlova

 Pavolva is a f***ing beautiful dessert and I spent 22 years of my life not knowing it existed.  In addition to being gluten-free and dairy-free, the crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth exterior gives way to a fluffy, marshmallow-y filling that manages to be both life and fluffy by decadently rich.  To be one hundred percent honest, I only tried my hand at making pavlova because I had way (and i mean wayyyy) to many leftover egg whites from making tiramisu for a going–away party and because I needed another dessert to bring to the bf’s parents’ house since they were throwing me a going-away party as well (sssssssssshh!)


With two hours to spare until the party, I was literally peeing in my pants because I still hadn’t put  together a dessert and the house was covered in a layer of flour and cocoa dust.  I was seriously contemplating my dad’s suggestion of of getting a Whole Foods cake and then just putting in onto a nice plate to make it look “homemade”, when I had a #greatbritishbaking moment.  For those of you that don’t know, Great British Baking is literally my jam (pun intended).  I love it.  I’ve seen every episode, having favorite bakers and follow them on Instagram.  Needless to say, I’m pretty much devastated that the show isn’t going to be the same anymore.


Anyway, months ago, I stumbled along Mary Berry’s (one of the hosts of GBB) pavlova recipe.  I bookmarked it on my laptop intending to return to it, but never got a chance.  This pavlova recipe was inspired by her recipe, but I’ve made a couple tweaks here and there to customize it to what I needed (mainly making a smaller and more easily manageable pavlova).
I’m not kidding you, if you have a electric mixer of any kind, this dessert will come together in under 10 minutes and you’ll be free to go about your day like the amazing pastry chef you are. Since I’m a nerdy food scientist at heart, I’m always astounded that egg whites and sugar will whip up into such an amazing dessert with multiple different textures. What you should be careful with (and what I forgot) is that egg whites brown super easily! That’s why they say to brush pastries or pies with egg white so you get that nice brown color.  But for a pavlova, you want it to be as white as snow….SO, don’t forget to monitor the oven temperature and turn it down if it’s starting to brown you pavlova. Don’t worry, if it turns golden, it’ll still be just as delicious (same with if the pavlova cracks…in my opinion, the cracks just mean better nooks and crannies for additional whipped cream!)
So here’s to the end of summer, when you’re left wanting the days to go a little slower and the weather to stay a little warmer.  This strawberry pavlova is just what you need for a perfect end to summer (and just what I need to help jump start my school year).

SUMMER STRAWBERRY PAVLOVA | Serves 8-10 depending on how generous you’re feeling

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs whites – room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 tsp vinegar -any kind, you won’t be able to taste it!
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract or 2 tsp vanilla extract (almond extract is stronger so you need less)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries – hulled and halved

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 (F).
  2. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on low speed until they begin to get frothy. Then add in salt.
  3. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer while you add in a tablespoon of sugar at a time until egg whites have been beaten into stiff shiny peaks. You’ll know if it’s done by holding the whisk upside down.  If the tip of the peaks don’t fold over, you’re good to go.
  4. Add in cornstarch, vinegar and extract, then gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
  5. On a piece of parchment paper, draw out an 8″ circle with a pencil.  Then turn the parchment paper over onto baking sheet (so the pencil won’t touch the pavlova mixture) and spoon mixture into the circle, trying not to let the mixture spill outside of the drawn circle. Try to flatten the top and smooth the sides, but it’s okay if it’s a little messy, as the swirls will make it look elegant and beautiful once baked.
  6. Place pavlova in oven and immediately reduce temperature down to 300 (F).
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, but keep pavlova inside oven with the door open until pavlova is fully cooled before handling.
  8. While pavlova is cooling, beat heavy whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks form.  Keep an eye on the whipped cream as it can quickly turn from light and fluffy to curdled.
  9. To assemble, gently tap the top of the pavlova a couple times to create an indentation for the whipped cream.  Top pavlova with whipped cream and sprinkle strawberries on top.
  10. Pavlova can be make 1-2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container, but once you assemble, it must be eaten within the day otherwise the crunch exterior will soften.

Enjoy!

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