Guard your Kitchen Aids, friends. The Bee and I have been mixing.
You surely remember the marshmallow incident, don’t you? You know how, through some unfortunate marshmallow whipping, we managed to more or less destroy an otherwise perfectly functional mixer?
Well, team Whip It was at it again. But this time, we brought out the big guns.
After declaring the mixer dead, the Bee’s husband (for whom I’ve yet to decide on an appropriate moniker) was on a mission to find a replacement. A replacement that could get the job done.
Now, I know the popular thing to get is a Kitchen Aid mixer, but I have to say, after some consideration, the consensus was that it wasn’t actually the best choice. Instead, with careful consideration and, of course, some research, the mixer purchased was….a Cuisinart! A sleek, black Cuisinart…we’re calling it Black Beauty.
I kind of thought it was the perfect time to do something that I’ve be wanting to try for a long time now: Pavlova.
What, you might ask, is Pavlova?
Well friends, it’s a cake. Made out of meringue. It’s like meringues on deliciously delightful steroids, covered in whipped cream and fresh berries. Oh, yes. It’s Superhero Meringue. Incredible Hulk Meringue. Captain America Meringue (post transformation). Spiderman post radioactive spider bite Meringue.
And it was delightful.
We also may have accidently made chocolate chip cookies andalsomaybesomechallahbread. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. It was Black Beauty’s fault.
So here’s the deal with the Pavlova: I took two reliable sources, Ina Garten and the Joy of Baking and got their takes on it. For the meringue, I followed Ina’s recipe, but cooked it at the temperature and time listed by Joy of Baking (we also formed it into a heart, just because it makes it adorable). Rather than buy pricey and out of season mixed berries, we went for only strawberries (which are more readily available and slightly cheaper at the moment) to top the cake. I converted Ina’s raspberry sauce into a strawberry sauce using strawberry jam and strawberries from the strawberry fields down the street that we froze at the top of the season last year. They were ridiculously sweet. This was a good switcheroo.
The verdict: the Pavlova was ridiculous. In a good way. It was light and sweet and fruity. Crispy and soft at the same time. Totally and utterly good. Make it. Make it right now.
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
1 1/2 pints (approximately) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
Strawberry Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw an 8-inch circle on the paper, using a 8-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes. (You will know the sugar is dissolved when you rub the mixture between two fingers and can no longer feel any gritty sugar).
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk (or a heart or some other shape you like). Bake for 60-75 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven. The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries in a bowl and toss with about 1/2 cup of strawberry sauce, or enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra strawberry sauce.
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don't overbeat!
Yield: 1 cup
Strawberry Sauce (this is a very adaptable recipe, I eyeballed the ingredients and adjusted the sugar and jam according to the sweetness of the berries)
Generous ½ cup frozen (or fresh) strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup seedless strawberry jam (12-ounce jar)
Place the strawberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked berries and the jam into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.
Yield: 2 cups