These pillowy, puffed meringues topped with slivered strawberries are a perfect celebration of spring. Although meringues have only a few ingredients, they require specific steps in order to achieve the crispy texture that makes them a perfect vehicle for whipped cream or lemon curd, and of course fresh berries.
Here is a quick summary of the steps with more details below. The egg whites are furiously whipped until they form stiff peaks. Separate your eggs while they’re cold, and beat the whites after they’ve been at room temperature for about 1/2 an hour. Use a squeaky clean mixing bowl with no trace of any fat in it, and the egg whites should have no trace of yolks. I know you’re thinking this is already overwhelming, but you’ll be rewarded with perfect results. The addition of vinegar or an acid like cream of tartar or lemon juice, stabilizes the egg whites and helps them hold the air. The low oven temperature allows the meringues to dry out. The trays will remain in the oven for a few hours even after you’ve turned it off. Fill your meringues with your favorite fruit or just nibble on the plain meringues. Yum!
- 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar You can make your own by grinding regular sugar. I used a coffee grinder.
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 pints strawberries cleaned, hulled and thinly sliced
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar or confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking pads (Silpat). To make the meringues, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Whip the egg whites and salt using a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand mixer). Start on low speed unil the eggs start to foam and then increase the speed to high. As the eggs start to turn white and come together add the remaining 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat the eggs until they become stiff and shiny. You are looking for stiff peaks.
- Remove the bowl from the machine and add the vanilla and vinegar by hand, folding in these ingredients gently with a rubber spatula. Sift the sugar/cornstarch mixture over the whipped egg whites and fold this in as well. Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheets - about a half a cup of the batter per pavlova. Using a large spoon spread out the batter leaving a depression in the center for the topping. Bake the meringues for 60-75 minutes or until they are dry. Turn off the oven and let them continue to dry out for several hours.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Top the cooled meringues with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.