|Strawberry and Kiwifruit Pavlova|
In culinary school, you have to take classes in both cooking and pastry. After the first few classes, most people have a clear preference – they are either cooks or bakers, rarely both. I was and still am a cook. Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy pastry and baking. However, if truth be told, I don’t think I am as good a baker as I am a cook. I can plate just about any entree, appetizer or first course, no problem. Desserts however, have always been a struggle for me (it ranks right up there with doing hair for me – I struggle with both!!) Something about squiggles of dessert sauces, chocolate curls, whipped cream rosettes… Anyhow, that is one of the reasons I love pavlovas. A crispy shell filled with a soft center and topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, it is perhaps the ultimate “fancy” summer dessert. But it’s looks are deceiving because it is absolutely hands down one of the easiest things to make and plate successfully!! Not only that but you can vary the fruit, flavor the cream, make small ones, large ones… the possibilities are endless. So, as they say “give it a go”- who knows, you might discover the “baker” within!
- * Meringues:
- * 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- * 1 cup superfine sugar, divided
- * 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- * 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
- * Cream:
- * 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
- * 2 Tbsp. sugar
- * 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
- * Fruit:
- * 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
- * 3 Kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
Place rack in center of oven and pre heat to 275 degrees. On a piece of parchment paper trace 8 – 2 1/2 inch circles with a pencil. Flip parchment over (check to see that you can see the traced circles and if not re trace) and place parchment on a baking sheet. Combine 1/4 cup sugar with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar beating until the whites form medium firm peaks. Mix in the sugar/cornstarch mixture and continue beating until the egg whites become very stiff. Beat in the vinegar. The whites are ready when the mixture is smooth and glossy and holds a peak when the beater is lifted. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment, filling each circle, creating a well in the center of each meringue. (You can also use a piping bag for a more uniform appearance if you like). Bake until the meringues are dry on the outside – about 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Let the meringues cool in the oven until they are completely dry – about another hour. The meringues can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. For the cream: Place the cream in a medium bowl and whip the cream, gradually adding the sugar. Whip until firm peaks form and then fold in the sour cream if using. Cream can be made up to 6 hours in advance – cover and refrigerate until ready to use.