May 25, 2010

Strawberry Angel Pavlovas

Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Let’s just get one thing straight right now: I’m a Midwestern person at heart. Born and raised in Illinois and proud of it. It’s a wonderful place to be from, and to me, there’s no better place to be in the summer. But I’ve lived in California for seven years, and although I used to think that someday I’d return to where I’m from to raise my kids, now you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming. Or at least grumbling the whole way. Because I’ve been brainwashed in that crazy way that so many Californians are, which is to say that, generally speaking, I totally believe that there’s no better place to live. I still can’t believe that I get to live here. The mild weather, the ability to see the mountains and the ocean in the same day, and all our year-round crazy sexy produce. I never understood the appeal of an avocado until I moved to California, and the strawberries, people. The strawberries!

Now, we have access to decent strawberries pretty much all year, but man, when prime strawberry season really hits here, we’ve got insanely gorgeous ones coming out our ears at criminally cheap prices. Pints at the registers in corner stores, full flats being hocked on street corners, even the organic berries are a steal right now. The fragrance smacks you in the face as soon as you walk into even the largest supermarket, piles of the kind of glistening, plump fruit that reveals a bleeding red interior all the way through when sliced. Like strawberries on Mother Nature’s steroids, I tell you. So awesome. And although I love a sparkling sorbet or a great shortcake recipe to showcase them, I think I’ve found my new favorite way to love on strawberries in their prime. I give you Strawberry Angel Pavlovas.

This recipe was inspired by one from the grande dame of the California culinary scene, she of the famous waffle recipe, Marion Cunningham. Her recipe for Strawberry Angel Pie got an instant bookmark–what’s not to obsess over when you’re dealing with a pie that involves a crisp meringue crust, billows of freshly whipped cream dotted with strawberries and dreamy lemon cream? Huminuh, huminuh.

As I’m wont to do with recipes with which I become obsessed, I thought about making that dang pie pretty much nonstop as soon as I found it, but hesitated because of the high risk of wasted delicious food. See, despite the insatiable sweet teeth that reside in this household, I really doubted we could demolish an entire pie in a day (not that I mentioned this to the husband, for fear he’d take pause, raise an eyebrow and ask if I’d care to make it interesting). And the reason it would all need to go down within one day is that with a base of delicate meringue and temperamental whipped cream, this is the sort of thing that you have to assemble and put in your face before it all starts to break down. But then I got all smart all of a sudden and opted to make pretty-pretty individual Strawberry Angel Pies, Pavlova-style.

Pavlova, for the record, would probably be up there for dessert after my very last meal. Not that I’m anticipating having my last meal anytime soon. That’s a horrible thing to say. How morbid. Sorry. But really, guys–crisp on the outside, marshmallowy-inside meringue shells topped with a bright lemon cream and whipped cream and peak of the season strawberries? Perfection. So perfect, it should be someone’s very first dessert. So let’s say that instead. The first dessert for a brand new, sweet-smelling little baby angel from heaven. There, that’s much better.

Strawberry Angel Pavlovas
Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s recipe in The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook

If you’d like to make this recipe into a pie like the original, then just spread the meringue in a buttered 9-inch pie plate, and bake just like you would for the shells. Fill with the lemon cream, then pile on the strawberry whipped cream.

Whether you make the individual Pavlovas or just one big pie, save your assembly for right before your serve it. The meringue can be baked a day in advance (store airtight), the strawberries sliced, and the lemon custard made the day before, stored in the fridge with a sheet of plastic wrapped pushed right on the surface (rewarm it a bit by placing the bowl in a pan of warm water and stirring well, just too loosen it up a little). This recipe can be halved to make four Pavlovas–just use a handheld mixer for the smaller amounts of eggs and cream.

Serves 8

4 eggs at room temperature, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

For the meringues: In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, then slowly rain in 1 cup of the sugar. Beat on high until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Portion the meringue into 8 mounds on the baking sheet, a generous 1/4 cup full each (a standard ice cream scoop works well to keep things even). Using a spoon, shape each mound into a little meringue nest, each about 4 inches in diameter. To create a small well in the center of each meringue shell, first rest the bowl of the spoon in the center of each meringue, horizontal to the baking sheet, then hold the spoon by the very end of the stem and turn it in a circle as you pull it up and off the meringue.

Bake the meringues in the center of the oven until they are firm and lightly golden, about 1 hour. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet in the turned-off oven with the door open.

For the lemon custard: Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they are thick and pale yellow. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the lemon juice and zest. Scrape the mixture into a small, nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the custard cool completely.

For the strawberries: Place the strawberries in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar and toss well to coat. Set aside.

When you’re ready to assemble the Pavlovas, whip the cream until it hold stiff peaks (you should have about 3 cups whipped cream). Fold 1 cup of the whipped cream gently into the lemon custard. Fold the strawberries into the remaining 2 cups of whipped cream.

Place the meringues on individual plates. Divide the lemon cream equally among the 8 meringue shells, and top with the strawberry whipped cream. Garnish with more strawberry slices. Serve immediately.

  • absolutely gorgeous…
    also, not sure if I could BE more jealous of the fact that you get these beauties all year long. Here in NJ I still have a few more weeks until the local berries are ready. waiting has never been so hard 😉

  • How gorgeous!! And how perfect for summer!! Totally don't blame you on the California thing….I wouldn't leave either!! We are heading to San Diego in a couple of weeks and I am gonna have to be dragged back to Arkansas 🙁

  • I think that pavlovas are a great choice for a last meal (for the record, I'm not in a hurry, either). 🙂

    Your pavlovas look beautiful!

  • Wait a minute? Brand new baby ? Is there something we need to know?

    Pavlova….. gah. You just can't go wrong with meringue, baked up tender and delicate. I could mow through a stack of those, with or without the cream, berries and what else. I may have even missed exactly what you were talking about because all I could see was those meringues. Again- GAH.

  • Kate–Ha! NO.

  • These look amazingly delicious!!!

  • Superduperlicious.

    Do you know how lucky you are? We get CRAP strawberries (organic or otherwise) here in Dubai all year round. They say they come all the way from Egypt, Morocco and California but they taste nothing like they should.

    Adopt me Shauna, adopt me and make me come live with you in California! Little C could do with a big sister and you can have a child whose diapers, rashes, education loans and wedding expenses are long taken care of! 😉

  • You're making me want to head to the kitchen and start whipping egg whites. But first I need some farmer's market fresh NJ strawberries. This is just luscious.

  • YUM!!! Your pictures are just mouthwatering!! Seriously…bookmarking this now….found you by way of DessertStalking and so glad I did. I will be making these SOON!! Can't wait to check out the rest of your blog. Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

  • Suave y delicado postre, se ve espectacular!

  • okay, this will sound silly…my pavlova recipe shows me how to make it in one large piece….I just assumed (silly me) that was the way to make it, always, as if I would be breaking some baking law if I tried it out in smaller amounts…relieved to know a pavlova really can be made for each individual. We're having dinner guests over in a few weeks…guess what's for dessert! 😉

  • Mac–Yes, you can! Baking temp and time is the same, since you're really just drying it out not "baking" it, per se. Try it and report back!

  • These look so yummy! I love meringue as you know so I must try this.

  • Yummmy!…While watching at the picture I am also salivating..LOL..Anyways, I just can't help myself from craving this one..Hope to have this in my house soon..

  • Go Illinois! I love coming back there in the summer as well. But nothing beats living in Paris to me…guess we'll just have to turn Illinois into a vacation destination 🙂 And eat loads of strawberry pavlovas there!

  • Hmmmm Yummyyyyyy !!! I have been browsing to prepare "Strawberry Angel Pavlovas" to my kids who love them. Thanks for sharing !!!

Leave a comment

7 × seven =

my books

I Support

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.