Pavlova is an elegant meringue-based crust topped with cream and fruit. It’s light and airy, as it should be since it’s named after a Russian ballerina. I like to make the “gigantata” version, which is one big pie that can be placed in the middle of the table so everyone at the gathering can serve themselves.
My version is different then most in that it contains some extra nutrients but no refined sugar. I recommend making all of the components (base, filling and strawberry topping) 2-3 days ahead of time stored in air-tight containers. This prep will allow you and your guests to enjoy your time together even more!
Meringues can be tricky because of their temperamental nature but I’ve put together a few tips to help:
Use a stand mixer over a hand mixer. It provides more control over speed and prevents you from ceasing the mixing too early. Not to mention there’s a lot you can get done while your mixer is at work.
Make sure your egg whites and maple syrup are at room temperature. Use eggs that you separate verses whites from a carton and make sure there are absolutely no signs of yokes in your whites.
The bowl you use should be metal or glass, and should be free of all residue. Utensils should be completely clean too.
Do not open the oven while cooking (it’s tempting!) and allow meringues to cool completely before you remove from the oven.
6 egg whites (room temperature)
½ c pure maple syrup (room temperature)
2 T arrowroot starch
2 t vinegar
Arrange your oven rack on the bottom third of your oven, remove all other racks. Preheat oven to 250°. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Begin beating egg whites in a standing mixer (use whisk attachment) on low for a few minutes, gradually increase to medium speed. In a separate bowl combine maple syrup and arrowroot starch until completely blended.
Once the whites are at a soft peak consistency, gradually add the syrup and starch mixture. Add a couple of tablespoons at a time and increase speed after each addition. Continue beating on high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Add vinegar and beat a little longer to combine.
Spread the meringue on the parchment paper in a loose shape. It does not have to be perfect, you can have fun with it. Just make sure it’s level enough that you can add the cream and fruit when serving.
Bake the meringue for 60 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow it to cool before removing from the oven. You can even leave it overnight. These crusts should have a spongier texture then your typical meringues, with a little crisp on the outside.
Banana Cashew Cream
1 ½ c raw cashews, soaked in water for several hours or overnight
1 ripe banana
¼ c pure maple syrup
2 T water (or more for creamy texture)
Combine all of the ingredients in a power blender until creamy. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator until assembly.
2 c fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced
Juice of one lime
1 T pure honey
1 T rum (optional)
Combine all ingredients and store in a glass container.
Place the crust on a fancy serving platter. Spread cream over meringue. Cover with strawberries. Serve in the middle of the table with a large serving spoon and encourage guests to serve themselves.