It’s been a crazy year so far. Good crazy though! I moved back to Paris, I decided to start a blog, and to host dinners at our home. And now, this is all actually happening; a week ago we launched my new website, which is why this post is possible right now and my first dinner as a supper club host is just around the corner. :)
A few days back, I had a reservation for dinner from a girl that’s allergic to egg yolk!! Ever since, all I can think about are possible menus that are egg yolk free. Not an easy task, not easy at all. Especially with sweets and desserts. My possible options had off course the forbidden ingredient: cheesecake, strawberry tart, chocolate fondant, crème brulée... Ahhhhh... every single dessert had egg yolk! And to make matters worse, my brain decided to go on strike. Luckily, after some time off biking through Berlin for the weekend, it decided to help me out! Alas, I found my answer: pavlova, pavlova, pavlova!! So the recipe testing began.
Pavlova is a meringue based dessert, named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It’s a summery, light dessert, usually topped off with fruits. And the rest is up to the imagination!! Yey! And egg yolk free... Just prefect! The components for this particular Pavlova I had in mind are inspired by something we eat back home. In Argentinean we kind of it a “deconstructed” pavlova. It’s a popular, easy to put together, summer dessert. Basically it’s broken down meringue, plus berries, plus whipped cream, and, if you’re lucky, dulce de leche, tossed together in a bowl. This is our version of a not fancy, not a real cake, but still an awesome dessert kind of Pavlova. And it’s delicious.
Having the key ingredients pin pointed... I knew I couldn’t go wrong... because meringue will always be perfect! And the good news is that you can make it in the size you want: big family size desert, little individual ones, “deconstructed”. All is good. Really. In this case, I made a big one. But for my dinner party at the beginning of July I’ll present it slightly differently! Also on the good news front, meringues last for weeks if well preserved, in a dry hermetic container. So you can prepare in advance, or even make them whenever you have leftover egg whites from other delicious food you’ve prepared. They will come handy!!
For this delicious dessert I decided to slightly caramelize the strawberries with honey and vanilla, add some raspberries, use Chantilly cream and dulce de leche. I used French meringue in this case, but I’ve done meringues with Swiss meringue and it works too.
French Meringue 2 discs of 22 cm each
Strawberry Compote 340 g
Dulce de leche 300 g
Fresh Strawberries 200 g
Raspberries 100 g
For the French Meringue:
Egg whites 100 g
Icing sugar 55 g
Salt a pinch
For the Chantilly Cream:
Cream 300 g
Icing sugar 30 g
Vanilla bean 1/2 u
For the Strawberry Compote:
Strawberries 300 g
Honey 40 g
Vanilla Bean 1/2 u
Pre-heat the oven to 100 C. (or less... the lower the temperature the longer it’ll take, but also you make sure that your meringues will not color. The idea is that we end up with a really white product! It also depends on the type of oven you have. Me for example, I have a small electric oven, which is very strong on the top but not on the bottom. I noticed that my meringues were slightly coloring, so I decided to turn down the temperature to 70 degrees).
Line a baking sheet with baking paper or a silpad if you have one.
Mix the icing sugar, the salt and the sugar together. Whisk the egg whites until there are no visible bubbles, and then add the sugars in 2 two times. Continue to whisk until the whites hold stiff peaks. (You can do this either by hand or using a hand or stand mixer. Either way it works! So if you don’t have a mixer don’t be discouraged, you can still make this yummy dessert. It will take a little longer, and your arm will be a little sore :) )
Transfer to a pastry bag with a number 12 or 13 tip. Don’t panic if you don’t have a pastry bag. The next step can be done with or without one!
Pipe, or spread with the back of a spoon, into circles of 20 cm in diameter (or the size you prefer!).
Cook for about 70 minutes (the time varies depending on the type of oven, the size of the circles, the humidity of the atmosphere.), or until the meringues are dry. Turn the oven off and let the circles cool off inside the oven.
It’s better if the egg whites are old, and at room temperature. So remember to take them out of the fridge some time before you start baking.
Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds off of the bean with the back of a knife and add to the cream. Mix the icing sugar in.
Whisk together all the ingredients, until the cream holds its shape when the whisk is withdrawn.
Refrigerate until it is time to use.
The cream should be extremely cold for better results! If you can refrigerate the container where you’ll whip the cream, even better!! Your success is guaranteed.
For the Strawberry Compote:
Cut the strawberries in half or quarters if they are too big. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds off of the bean with the back of a knife.
In a pot, toss together with the honey and the vanilla (seeds and been! We don’t want to waste any vanilla!!). Cook in a medium low heat for 5 to 6 min. Cool down.
For the assembly of the Pavlova:
Strain the strawberries and save the liquid, for serving time.
Cut the fresh strawberries in half. Sprinkle them with icing sugar to make them shine.
Transfer the Chantilly and the dulce de leche onto 2 different piping bags (if you have one).
On a serving plate, put a drop of the dulce de leche and stick one of the to circles onto it. Make sure it doesn’t dance around on the plate.
Proceed to pipe, or spread with the back of a spoon, half the dulce de leche. Repeat the operation with the Chantilly. Add some of the strawberries and raspberries.
Put the second circle on top of the berries and repeat the previous steps. This time also add the fresh strawberries.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top, or some broken down meringue pieces if you had any extra after making the 2 circles.
* You can add the strawberry syrup that you obtained from the compote when serving the individual portions!