I've noticed over the years different climates has a serious impact on the results of your baking. I wasn't able to bake at all in Jamaica as the heat and pretty useless AC killed anything that was meant to rise! So as a test in my new Brickell kitchen I tried out a chocolate meringue - total disaster. It was as flat as a pancake! Frustrated, and with someone coming for lunch the next day, I tried again but with a more basic meringue recipe. It is a pretty straightforward take on a normal Pavlova, but with a little “sauce” for the grown-ups. Thankfully a success...
In years past meringues defied me as they kept over baking and becoming flaky and hard like shop bought variations. The recipe below delivers a thick, spongy, toffee-like meringue with a hard shell. The key is a low temperature and leaving it in the oven overnight. Fret not if it isn’t perfect in the end as you can always smother it in cream to hide any mistakes, then top it with fruit and the strawberry mojito coulis will put a smile on everyone’s face ;)
In fairness I owe all my pavlova skills to Nigella, with a little extra advice from my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who still bake them far better than me.
N.B. This recipe needs to be baked the night before to allow for baking/cooling down.
strawberry mojito pavlova
8 large Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
500g Caster Sugar
4 teaspoons of Cornflour
2 teaspoons of White Wine Vinegar
A punnet of fresh Strawberries
300ml Double (Heavy) Cream
Small Mint Leaves
Strawberry Mojito Coulis
150g fresh Strawberries, stalks removed and cut into quarters
Juice from half a Lime
6 Mint Leaves
2 tablespoons of Vodka
Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment (non-greased version) and draw a rough 20cm/8in circle in the middle as a guide.
In a spotlessly clean bowl whisk the egg whites and salt in the Mixer until the mixture is holding stiff peaks.
Then with the Mixer whisking continuously on medium speed add the sugar mixture to the egg whites, a spoonful at a time. The end result should be a cream-coloured, firm and stiff meringue mixture.
Sprinkle the cornflour and vinegar over the meringue mixture in the bowl and using a clean metal spoon, fold it gently in until combined.
Dollop the mixture on your pre-drawn circle to create a high dome. It will be about 12cm/5 in high. Smooth the surface with a spatula.
Pop it into the middle of the oven. Make sure the shelf above isn’t too close as it will burn your meringue from the top – done that in the past!!!
Immediately turn the oven down to 150°C/300°F and bake for an hour and three quarters. Then turn the oven off, but leave the meringue in the oven overnight, or at least until it is cold. An hour before serving make the Strawberry Mojito Coulis. Put all the ingredients intosaucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened slightly. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Meanwhile slice your strawberries evenly and put to the side. Then whip the cream to a firm enough consistency to sit comfortably on top of the meringue - take care not to over whip it.
Carefully turn the Pavlova over onto a serving plate and gently peel the parchment off the top. Gently dollop the cream on top and spread over the top. Allow it to slide naturally down the sides. Then arrange the strawberry slices on top of the cream and drizzle the coulis on top of that. Sprinkle some mint leaves over the whole pavlova and serve.