My grandma and grandpa used to have a narrow strip of garden that bridged the gap between their front yard and the cornfield that butted up to it. In it I’m sure they grew all kinds of vegetables and fruits, but all I remember were the strawberries. It’s hard to say whether this strip was a staple in their yard every summer or if it truly was even as big as I remember, but squatting for hours on end, searching for strawberries to fill my bucket is etched in my memory. Once picked, Grandma would cut up these fresh-picked berries, sprinkle with sugar and let sit for an afternoon on the kitchen counter. I remember my fascination with the sweet, red syrup that formed and took every opportunity to sneak a spoonful.
More than twenty years later strawberries sprinkled with sugar is one of my favorite treats and toppings. Of course it’s perfect on shortcakes and on angel food cake. Ice cream and chocolate cake are made better topped with strawberries. And just when I thought I’d run out of things to top with berries, I discovered Pavlova.
You guys. Go forth and make Pavlova. It is super fun. I’m a sucker for textures anyway, and this meringue-based dessert is just right. It contains arrowroot powder/cornstarch, which slowly baked creates an exterior that becomes lightly crisp and toasted, but the interior remains soft and marshmallow-y. Have I mentioned that in addition to strawberries, my second love is marshmallows?
Traditionally Pavlovas are topped with whipped cream and fruit, but for the sake of using what was on hand we skipped the whipped topping and focused only on the strawberries. Next time I may add some chocolate to the egg base or use white sugar instead of brown. It would be delicious with whipped cream or drizzled with chocolate sauce to counter balance the sweetness. But however I make it next time, I’ll still top it with strawberries sprinkled with sugar. I really can’t imagine it without.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 1/4 brown sugar, pulsed in a food processor (or caster sugar)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in center. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In large mixing bowl, or using stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium until foamy peaks appear.
3. Turn speed to high and gradually add sugar to egg whites, mixing until stiff and glossy, approximately 7 minutes.
4. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the egg white and sugar mixture, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the arrowroot powder. Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on high for another 3-4 minutes.
5. Scoop mixture onto center of parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread evenly into an 8-inch circle.
6. Bake for 1 hour until dry, but not browned. Turn off oven, crack door and let cool completely.
7. Move to serving platter and top as desired when ready to serve.