We are still in a bit of an in between produce season, but the weather is warming up and the sun is out so I am craving fresh fruit desserts like it’s my job. I guess it kind of is my job…I love to make desserts like this pavlova because it is fairly low lift and aside from a low, slow bake in the oven for the meringue (which you can make the day before if it’s not too humid where you live) everything comes together in a few minutes.
The tart crushed raspberries provide some nice sauciness here and contrast well with sweet strawberries and the crisp, pillowy meringue. Make sure to use the best strawberries you can find for this dessert, and adjust the sugar to your personal tastes. In NYC we get some really nice organic berries from California but they are $$ so you may just want to bookmark this until they are in season locally where you live. The mini mint leaves are also totally optional, but they do add a nice freshness and beautiful pop of contrasting color.
Crushed Raspberry and Strawberry Pavlova
Crisp and chewy meringue, pillowy whipped cream, and sweet-tart berries are combined to make this super springy, and fairly simple dessert. Assemble just before serving for the best textural experience as the meringue will weep and melt as it sits.
4 large egg whites
1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 pound of the best strawberries you can find
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
To make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 250ºF (130ºC/Gas Mark 1/2). Trace an 8-inch (20cm) circle onto a piece of parchment paper and flip it upside down on a baking sheet.
Stir the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture about one tablespoon at a time until you have added all of the sugar and the egg whites are stiff and glossy about 7 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and mix for 30 more seconds.
Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the traced circle. Make a shallow indent in the center of the meringue which will hold all of the delicious toppings. Bake the meringue for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the outside looks dry and slightly creamy in color. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the meringue cool completely in the oven. It should feel firm and crackly when you press it, but will be soft and marshmallowy in the center. When cooled, you should be able to gently peel it off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter or cake stand.
To make the topping: Slice the strawberries in half if they are small, quarters if they are large. Combine the raspberries, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and crush the berries with a fork. Gently stir in the strawberries and let the fruit macerate for a few minutes. Taste and add a bit more sugar if desired, keeping in mind that the meringue will be quite sweet.
Whip the cream and sugar together to soft peaks. Top the cooled meringue with the whipped heavy cream, followed by the berries. Sprinkle mint leaves over the top and serve immediately.