Pavlovas are giant meringues with soft, marshmallowy interiors underneath a crisp shell. Like angel food cakes and sponge cakes, they are meant to be accessorized with fresh fruit, whipped cream and other wonderful sauces. I love it when I get a good one – and these Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlovas are good enough to love. The pavlovas are topped with a homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce, plenty of whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The sauce is sweetened, but the rhubarb adds a nice citrusy contrast to the rich sweetness of the strawberries. The best thing about this dessert is that you can have a lot of fun with it. You can drizzle on the sauce or dollop it on, add a pile of whipped cream or just a few spoonfuls. This flavor combination is so good that you can’t go wrong.
This recipe makes four individual pavlovas. That said, each one is quite large. I’ve eaten them by myself on more than one occasion, but the truth is that each one is big enough for two (or perhaps even three) people to split. The reason that I can eat myself yourself is that the pavlova itself is incredibly light, so it almost feels like you’re eating only fruit and marshmallow-kissed air. The recipe below contains guidelines for the amount of whipped cream and chopped strawberries that you’re going to need. Feel free to use more or less, depending on how you like your pavlova to be put together. You may also have some extra sauce leftover. If so, you can drizzle it on ice cream, pancakes or other baked goods.
The pavlovas can be prepared a day before you intend to serve them. They need at least an hour to cool before serving anyway and you can simply leave them in the oven overnight. If you are cooking in an environment that is not particularly humid, you could also leave them out at room temperature. I recommend leaving them in the oven just to ensure that they don’t lose any of their crispness. The sauce can also be prepared a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve your desserts. Top the pavlovas with berries and whipped cream just before serving.
In a large bowl, beat heavy cream to soft peaks. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract.
Place pavlovas on individual serving plates. Top each with about 1/4 cup of sauce, a generous dollop of whipped cream (about 1/2-cup) and about 1/2 cup sliced strawberries.
Drizzle with additional sauce before serving.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups sliced strawberries, approx 1 pint
2 cups chopped rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
In a saucepan or large skillet, combine chopped rhubarb, sugar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Cook until rhubarb is tender, about 5 minutes. Add in strawberries and cook for 1-2 minutes, until berries have softened slightly. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until sauce is very smooth. Strain to remove seeds, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until they begin to foam up. Turn speed up to high and beat until egg whites are very foamy and soft peaks begin to form. Gradually blend in the sugar, continuing to beat the meringue until it is stiff and glossy. Beat in sugar, apple cider vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla extract.
Divide meringue into four even discs on the prepared baking sheet, making each about 1 1/2 inches high and about 5-inches in diameter.
Bake for 26-30 minutes, until pavlovas are completely set on the outside (ideally they will not be brown, but mine usually turn very light brown). Turn off the oven and allow pavlovas to cool completely in the oven.
Serve pavlovas when cool, or leave in the oven overnight.
Makes 4 pavlovas.