Tomorrow is my friend Rachel’s birthday.
Rachel comes from New Zealand and one time, a long time ago, she mentioned that she really misses pavlova.
I didn’t know what pavlova was.
My kind friend informed me that pavlova is similar to a meringue and that it is always topped with fruit and whipped cream.
Filed away but not forgotten, I knew that Rachel’s next birthday treat would be pavlova… I just had to figure out how to make it first.
Luckily, a few websites guided the way, and I was able to put my own spin on a classic, New Zealand tradition.
Although this treat is a bit time consuming, there isn’t much hands-on labor involved.
The ingredients are quite simple. From a few household handy food items, something great can be formed.
As a meringue-based dessert, egg whites are the star. I used organic, free range eggs.
Pavlova is always topped with fruit. Since strawberries are in season right now, they made the most logical choice.
Being my mother’s child, I put my own twist on the classic by including dark mint chocolate in the recipe.
First up, mix the vanilla and white wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar then set aside.
Using a kitchen scale, measure 6 oz of egg whites; about 5-6 eggs.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and begin to beat over low speed with a hand-held mixer.
Gradually increase the beater speed to medium and beat the egg whites for a few minutes.
Once the bubbles become very small and uniform in size and the egg whites form soft peaks, you’re ready for the next step.
With the beaters running on medium speed, gradually add the sugar mixture to the eggs.
Keep beating the eggs over medium-high speed until all sugar is well combined and absorbed.
After a couple minutes of further beating, your meringue will resemble the photo above.
Next, add the vanilla/ vinegar mixture and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
The meringue will really start to thicken.
Do you see a heart or two swans?
Next up, melt your dark mint chocolate in a double boiler (or microwave) and drizzle a couple spoonfuls over the meringue.
Take a large spoon and scoop out a heap of chocolate-marbled meringue.
Plop and scrape the mound onto a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using the back of the spoon, make a well in the mount to hold the fruit later on.
Continue to make meringue mounds, adding more chocolate drizzle with each new layer of meringue.
You’ll end up with some really cool marbled designs.
Place the meringues in the preheated oven then immediately turn down the temp. These will bake for about an hour. While they’re in the oven, move on to whipping the cream and making the strawberry sauce.
To prepare the strawberry sauce, simply place 1/2 pound of cleaned and de-greened strawberries in a blender with the powdered sugar then blend.
You will know the meringues are cooked when the shell is hard to the touch. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven. I’ve read that it’s best to allow them to sit and firm-up overnight before moving them.
This may be advisable as several of my meringues cracked and crumbled when I took them, only slightly cooled, out of the oven.
For quality control purposes, I set aside the ugly, crumbling duckling for Sebastian and me.
As you can see, the shell is crisp but delicate…
but the inside is soft and spongy like a marshmallow.
To assemble, place a pavlova meringue on a clean plate, place freshly cut strawberries in the well, top with whipped cream and drizzle with the strawberry sauce.
Light, fresh, sweet and delicate.
I hope this birthday treat is a taste of home for my friend.
Chocolate Marbled Pavlova with Strawberries
Adapted from Shuna Fish Lydon at simplerecipes.com
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 50 grams dark mint chocolate
- 1 lb fresh strawberries
- 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- Whipped Cream for topping
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and the sugar.
- In a large, impeccably clean bowl, whip the egg whites and salt using a hand mixer set to low speed. Incrementally increase the speed of the mixer to medium speed until soft peaks start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, this will take approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Dribble a few spoonfuls of the melted chocolate over the meringue mixture.
- Scoop large spoonfuls of the swirled meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and with the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of each mound. Keep dribbling more chocolate into the bowl as a new layer of meringue emerges.
- Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F (120°C). Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
- Once fully baked, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool and harden in the oven over night. Gently lift the meringues from the baking sheet. These will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week in a non-humid house.
- While the meringues are cooling, make the strawberry sauce by placing half the strawberries and the powdered sugar into a blender and whizzing until smooth.
- Whip the cream and vanilla sugar until soft using a hand mixer in a very cold bowl.
- To serve, place a meringue on a plate and dollop a spoonful of cream over the top. Scatter over a handful of sliced strawberries and then pour over the strawberry sauce. Now enjoy!