Pillows of light marshmallow textured pavlova, covered in whipped cream with handfuls of sweet strawberries macerated in vanilla powder. This brings out the really complex marriage of flavours that develops over time between strawberries and vanilla.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- 6 free-range egg whites
- 300g Fairtrade caster sugar
- 2 tbsp of Ndali Fairtrade Vanilla Extract Intense
- 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
- 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
- 250ml organic double cream
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 large punnet of local seasonal strawberries de-hulled, sliced in half and mixed with two tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla powder – cover and leave to macerate at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat Oven to gas mark 2/300°F/150°C
Before you begin, make sure your utensils are absolutely spotless. Don’t use a bowl that may harbour any grease (such as a plastic bowl), and make sure your utensils are dry. Meringues are sensitive and don’t get on with moisture or fat.
To make the meringue base, whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy: 3–4 minutes should do. Once they are fluffy and white and form soft peaks, don’t stop the beating; just slowly add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it is all dissolved. Add the extract, vinegar and cornflour. Tipping it all in at once knocks the air out of the eggs, and if you stop beating the eggs, you knock the air out when you restart beating. So a flow of continuous beating gets the best results.
Draw a large dinner plate circle in pencil on the back of some baking parchment and turn it over. Dollop the mixture onto the circle on the paper, turn the oven down to gas mark 1/275°F/140°C and bake for 1 hour 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To assemble your pavlova, whip the cream and the icing sugar until thick. Not too thick, though: you need to drape it gently over the meringue. Tumble the strawberries over the top of the cream and serve.
Tips for successful meringues
Meringue really is one of the simplest things to make, but it is important to avoid getting any yolk in the egg whites. The fat in the yolk will completely destroy the meringue before you’ve even got started. Even a teeny, tiny drop of egg yolk can spoil a meringue. If you do accidentally drop in some egg yolk, don’t use your fingers to remove it; this can also transfers fat into the whites. Instead, use half an egg shell to scoop it out and discard.
Wipe around a bowl with a slice of lemon and dry with kitchen towel to remove any possible trace of grease.
Always use fresh eggs but never eggs laid the same day: these can sometimes not rise; but beware of old eggs as they can split and the yolk runs.
If you are using a gas oven keep a close eye on the base of the meringues at the end of the cooking time. Gas can be a harsher heat than electric, so take extra care.
Tips & Uses
Instead of making one large meringue, make half a dozen small ones. They make stunning food gifts. While they sit in a cooling oven at Christmas time, I dust them with vanilla powder mixed with cocoa powder and edible glitter. They make a beautiful festive statement for a supper party.