Strawberries could easily be considered to be heavily overdone in terms of summer puddings, and initially, this pavlova might sound no different to your standard Eton mess fare, or even strawberries and cream. But there's a reason for that - they're utterly delicious and beloved by almost all. And for a make-ahead dessert, what goes more perfectly together than crispy, chewy meringue, leaving-teeth-marks-in-it-so-thick cold chocolate cream, and juicy sweet strawberries? This is also heavenly when leftovers are rescued from the fridge then crammed into a tupperware box then carried by bike to Regent's Park to be eaten with greed by friends sharing forks. Lovely for posh picnics. Plus I hear it's going to be a bumper year for straws, so you might as well!
This is a wonderful summer dessert for whenever you're entertaining, again - I've fed my whole family on this during my graduation in 2009, when I cooked a huge vegetable lasagna, with leftovers. So don't make if it's just the two of you - for health-related reasons!
The original recipe suggests raspberries, my absolute favourite food. But I've always gone into the shop intending to buy but flinch at the last minute at the cost. The recipe also calls for the meringue base to be rolled up into a roulade, which I've never managed - this is basically Nancy's meringue pie with a chocolate cream filling and strawberry topping. And good god it looks seriously impressive.
Strawberry pavlova with chocolate cream
Serves about 6 to 8 people
- 250g strawberries
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 150g plain chocolate
- 400ml double cream
- 5 egg whites
- 275g caster sugar
- Mint, optional garnish
|Avoid doing this too much while cooking|
Meanwhile, get to making your meringue. Pre-heat your oven to 200C and line one of your biggest baking trays with greaseproof paper (suggest 33cm by 23cm swiss roll tin.)
Whatever plastic mixing bowl you have knocking about in the back of your cupboard, rewash it with a non-skimpy amount of detergent to get any grease off and dry it with a clean tea towel. Carefully seperate your eggs - I like to have three bowls on the counter. A mug to catch the white, one to catch the yolk, and then the bowl to tip the white into - meaning if you balls up one seperation, you don't lose contaminate most of your egg whites with yolk.
Now, the whisking - get your electric whisk (and how I feel for you if you don't have one) and whisk on high until the peaks of the egg white are standing up stiff. Turn the setting on the whisk to low, and gradually add the caster sugar, stirring all the while until the mixture is nice and glossy.
|Fresh out the oven|
Chocolate cream time (you can do this while the meringue is cooking.) Whisk the cream now (avoid eating TOO many strawberries dipped in them), until it's a nice thick consistency. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate using a double boiler method, or if you're lazy like me, put it into a pan on a low heat and stir frantically until melted. Pour the now-melted chocolate off into a cold bowl and leave to cool down for ten minutes or so, so it doesn't curdle when you mix it. Fold the chocolate into cream (then sigh heavily at how gorgeous this looks), reserving a little chocolate for drizzling.
Then it's just assembly: when the meringue is cooled off, use a big spoon to smear the lovely cream all over the meringue, then arrange the strawberries on top. Use a little teaspoon to flicky-flick little dribbles of dark chocolate all over the top for a nice effect, add a sprig of mint if you're using, then put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it big indulgent slices to happy people.
Credit where credit is due - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in The Guardian