Okay, I know in Israel we are a little ahead in our growing season than the US, so this recipe might not be as useful for my Israeli compatriots as the strawberry season is almost over, but it is just starting in the US. On Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) we finally went strawberry picking. Well I went strawberry picking with the Little Rocker and Squeaker and with my friend E and her daughter S. I heard of this strawberry field that was only about 20 minutes away and they didn’t charge for picking, just for the actual strawberries themselves.
I was a little worried about going anywhere on Yom Haatzmaut because the whole country is out and in all the parks and recreation areas. I was warned by native Israelis to not try to go any more than 10 minutes from my house because otherwise the amount of traffic would just make the whole trip not worth it. I was also warned that if I wanted to barbecue in a park (the official Independence Day pastime), then I should stake out a spot and picnic table the night before and have someone stay in the park the whole night. Soooo, that was out.
We had already planned to get together with E and A on Yom Haatzmaut and I was just looking for something to do during the day before the barbecue. So I decided on strawberry picking before the season ended.
On the morning of the big day, all we saw were grey clouds and I was a little apprehensive. It was also really windy. I had heard that the rain was supposed to be spotty so we set out anyway in the hopes that it would be nice and sunny when we got there. As we drove to the field (and with a few wrong turns ;) ) the sun came out and the weather turned lovely. Bright and sunny, but a cool breeze too. We got to the field and picked the freshest strawberries I have had in this country. The Little Rocker did all the bending down for me which was awesome as I had Squeaker in a backpack on me. And we ended up with some really bright and sweet strawberries.
We got home and continued with our plans and had an amazing barbecue with great fresh fruit for dessert. But afterwards we still had all those strawberries. I made a strawberry pie with some of them, and it was great. But then I made these strawberry pavlovas and they were the bomb-dizzle.
I had a ton of egg whites saved up in the freezer from some time when I made lemon curd or something. I didn’t want to make more meringues, because they always took so long and then I always ate them because Rocker Dude doesn’t like them. So here is something to do with all those extra egg whites.
I ended up making individual pavlovas as opposed to one big one, because if I have a choice, I prefer to make individual desserts as opposed to family style, and this is one chance to do that without shaping individual pie crusts.
I wanted to really have the strawberry flavor pop, so I also made a strawberry sauce to be drizzled over the cream. The Little Rocker was really excited to try these and though she usually does not like the desserts I make (no taste that one, I don’t know what to do with her) she loved this one.
We had a bunch of people for dinner and these came out wonderfully, though in the future I might make the pavlovas themselves a little smaller as some felt that there was too much sweet on the plate.
This is a wonderful dessert for warm spring or summer days as it is sweet and refreshing.
Recipe (serves 12):
Pavlovas (from the Pastry Studio):
6 egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium-low speed. When they are foamy, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until egg whites are opaque. Slowly dd the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until continue whipping until the egg whites are stiff and shiny.
Drop the meringue by spoonfuls onto the baking sheets, using about 1/3 cup per pavlova. Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon, leaving an indentation for the filling. Bake for about 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the meringues are dry and can be released easily from the baking paper. Remember to rotate the baking sheets halfway and if you have them on two racks then to switch the pans as well. When they are done, turn off the oven and let the meringues dry out for another 30 minutes in the oven. After 30 minutes, place the meringues on a wire rack to cool.
Vanilla Bean Cream:
250 ml whipping cream
2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
In a clean mixing bowl, begin whipping the cream. As the cream thickens, add the sugar and the vanilla. Continue beating until stiff. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.
15 strawberries, washed and hulled
2 tbsp.-1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet the strawberries are
In a food processor or blender, combine the strawberries with the sugar until you have a uniform sauce.
Washed, hulled and sliced strawberries for garnish.
On each plate, place a meringue. Add a generous spoonful of cream on top, followed by some sliced strawberries. Then drizzle some strawberry sauce over the whole thing. Serve immediately.