Strawberry Pavlova

Makes 10 servings

 

Ingredients:

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup super fine sugar (make by pulsing granulated sugar a few times in a food processor)

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

1 Tablespoon of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups whipping cream

1 quart of strawberries (4 cups sliced)

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil.   
  3. In a medium bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine egg whites and salt. When separating the egg whites, be sure there is no yolk.  Begin at a low speed and slowly increase to high. Continue until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time until very stiff, glossy peaks form (about 8 minutes). Blend in cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla on low speed or by hand.  
  4. Spread meringue into a 10-inch circle with a raised edge and a slight indention in the center. Make sure the edges are relatively tall in relation to the center dip.
  5. Place the pavlova in the oven on the center rack. Immediately reduce the temperature to 200º F. Bake until the pavlova is firm and dry, about 90 minutes.  
  6. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool INSIDE the oven. Once cool,  serve immediately or it can be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  7. Whip cream with or without a little sugar until stiff peaks form. 
  8. Top the pavlova with whipped cream and sliced strawberries (sweetened or unsweetened).
  9. Cut into wedges and serve.  

 Adapted from allrecipes.com

 

 

IN SEASON

 

Strawberries – April

 

Wild strawberries are found growing in all the temperate regions of the world. Cultivated strawberries are a cross between two wild species from North America and South America that have been developed over several centuries. Strawberries are among the most popular berries consumed worldwide and include over 100 different varieties. Strawberries belong to the rose family of plants. Along with strawberries, other berries found in this plant family include blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries, apples, almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and prunes.  

                                                                                    

Peak Time: March to July                                                                                    

                                                                                                                    

Average Price: $3.89 per pound

 

Tips for Selection and Storage: We look for Florida strawberries first in March and then begin to find local Alabamastrawberries in April and May. Alabama holds several strawberry festivals  those two months. Since strawberries may be heavily treated with pesticides, choose organic or those grown as naturally as possible. When choosing strawberries, look for medium to small berries that are firm and very red with fresh green caps. The fresher the leaves, the fresher the strawberries. Strawberries do not ripen after picking. They are very perishable and should be bought only a few days before use. If bought already packaged, check the bottom to be sure unripe berries have not been hidden underneath ripe ones. They should be free of mold and bruises. Rinse and hull berries immediately before using since water seeps into the berries diluting flavor, changing texture, and destroying vitamin content. Cover and refrigerate remaining berries and use within a day or two or freeze for later use in cooking. To freeze, arrange them in a single layer on a flat sheet pan. Once frozen transfer to a heavy plastic bag and they will keep for up to one year. 

 

Tips for Preparation: After rinsing, be sure the strawberries are dry before preparing. Pinch off, use a strawberry huller or cut off the leafy cap with a paring knife by inserting the tip of the knife into the strawberry next to the stem cap. Angle the knife tip toward the center. Turn the strawberry to guide the knife, keeping the knife tip angled to make a shallow cut around the bottom of the cap.  This way you waste the least fruit. Strawberries are at their best eaten fresh alone or in salads, yogurt, dipped, or as a topping. Traditional uses for strawberries include pies and tarts, cakes, muffins, jams, coulis, soufflés, mousses, ice creams, sorbets, smoothies, and ices. A quart or pound of strawberries yields about 4 cups of sliced berries depending on the size.

 

Nutritional Highlights: Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C with 1 cup of fresh berries supplying 113% of the minimum recommended 90 mg per day. Strawberries are also good sources of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, vitamin K, manganese, potassium and dietary fiber. In addition to antioxidant properties of vitamin C, strawberries contain powerful polyphenol antioxidants that include flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, tannins, and stilbenes – most of which have anti-inflammatory properties. The manganese in strawberries also plays a role in antioxidant production. There are also small amounts of carotenoids in strawberries, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. All of these phytonutrients play a role in the benefits of strawberries such as heart health, vision, blood sugar control, and cancer prevention in a low calorie, yummy package.