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Monday, March 19, 2012

Sweet, Ooey, Gooey, Pavlova

What a great over the top dessert to impress family and friends. So simple to make and yet the final result is a decadent, delicious dessert. I was intrigued when I first saw Ina Garten making one on one of her shows almost a year ago. However, after buying 4 lbs. of strawberries on sale last week I needed to use some of them up in a hurry. This is when I remembered how yummy the Pavlova looked against the berry topping she had made.  Pavlova is a cross between a meringue and fluff. You process it like a meringue with a couple of different ingredients. When you bake it the outside gets crunchy crispy and the inside stays soft and gooey, goopy like marshmallow fluff. Then you top it with some homemade sweet cream and berry topping of your choice. Is your mouth watering yet? Now add just smidgen of chocolate.  Mmmmmm... sweet clouds of crunchy, ooey, gooey, heaven, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with both sweet cream and sweet ripe strawberries in their own juices.   

As you can see from the photo above, this is my Pavlova layer that has been baked off to perfection, cooled and then drizzled with chocolate. The photo below was taken just before we all dug our spoons into it to take a taste. It has been topped with sweet cream and strawberries.

Mixed Berry Pavlova (Serves 6)
Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Triple Raspberry Sauce:
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12-ounce jar)
1 tablespoon Framboise Liqueur

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, and 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.

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. Bake for 1½ hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about ½ cup of raspberry 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 raspberry sauce.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
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!

Triple Raspberry Sauce:
Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and Framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

My Version:

Instead of white wine vinegar, I used white vinegar. 

I mixed the corn starch in with sugar and then added both to the eggs while mixing. 

I drizzled the vinegar and vanilla down the side of bowl while the mixer was on.

I did use the parchment paper, but didn’t draw a circle, just eyeballed it.

I drizzled a melted Hershey bar over my Pavlova once it was cooled.

I did make the sweet cream, but if you want a short cut you can use Cool Whip.

My topping was as follows (mix all together and keep refrigerated until ready to use):

2 lbs. strawberries, cleaned, stemmed and diced.

3 tbsp. lemon juice (helps to keep the berries their vibrant red color)

1/3 cup sugar to sweeten it all up

Pinch of salt to bring out the flavors.  

What would I do differently next time?   I would make individual sized Pavlova’s.   Although, one large Pavlova looks so dreamy and decadent, it is difficult to cut and to store the left over’s (should you have any).   Making smaller individualized Pavlova clouds, allows you to serve them up as needed and you can store the cream and berries separately in the fridge.   

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