Sweet, delicate, and light clouds of meringue topped with a little whipped cream and fresh strawberries is a perfect Spring dessert. I once had a Victorian tea business and I served tarts, scones, and meringues. My meringues came in all shapes and sizes, for instance: hearts filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit, small rounds filled with strawberries and whipped cream, as well as three-layer meringue desserts baked in cake pans and then filled with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit. Meringues can be made any time of the year, but Spring is my favorite time to make meringues because they are an elegant and easeful prologue to summer. It is finally warm enough to stand outside and marvel at the clouds in the sky, and because there is usually low humidity, making poofs of meringue clouds is easier than any other time of the year.This light and airy delectable gets its name from the famous Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova. It was said that she had wings for soaring in dance and her feet never touched the floor.
Meringues taste best on the same day they’re made, certainly like most food does, but especially meringues because when the fruit and cream sits atop a meringue too long, it will become soggy and collapse. The best meringues are slightly crisp on the outside and slightly marshmallowly on the iniside. I say slightly because you don’t want them browned to a hard crisp on the outside or too mushy on the inside. But please don’t despair…meringues made in Spring are quite easy once you relax into making them as if you hadn’t a care in the world. It is akin to a magical Spring day when you leisurely walk on a trail and see that first Spring azure butterfly while being touched by gentle breezes. Take your time and it won’t take any time at all, slow oven and all.
Spring Pavlova (for two or four people, but two can easily devour this delectable dessert)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees; put parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
Ingredients and how to:
2 egg whites (fresh eggs from a local farm…mine came from Tulip Tree Farm, 453 Main Street, Hampstead, NH)
Beat in a medium mixer bowl until foamy, then add 1/8 tsp. of Cream of Tartar, and beat until somewhat stiff
Slowly add 3/4 cup sugar while beating, then add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. white vinegar
Beat until very stiff and shiny, about 7 minutes.
Divide the meringues into two mounds on the cookie sheet, about two inches apart
With your hands (I use my index finger – no licking at this point, please!), make equal circles and create a half inch rim around each one (this takes patience…and remember to relax into it for it is really easy and fun)
Bake in a slow oven (250 degrees) for approximately 45 minutes until slightly colored (a hint of light brown sugar look)
Cool on a wire rack and make whipped cream (put glass bowl and beaters in fridge for best results); 1/2 cup of whipping cream and 1/4 tsp of vanilla. Whip into fluffy peaks and divide onto cooled meringues.
Slice a pint of fresh strawberries (I bought organic strawberries from A Market in Manchester, NH – http://www.amarketnaturalfoods.com and mixed them with squeezed juice of half of a small lemon)
Set one meringue with whipped cream and strawberries atop the other one and take a photo. I did just for you!
Go lightly into Spring and make this delicious Spring Pavlova and keep a look out for for my articles. I will be sharing more Pavlova desserts with you, as well as other spring and summer festive desserts.