Whilst making and shooting food for the blog, I never usually have trouble stopping myself from picking at it until I’m finished. In fact, by the time I’ve spent hours assembling, prinking, and photographing, I usually can’t bear to look at it anymore and just end up setting it all aside for Jason to devour when he gets home from work. (Seriously, partners of sometimes food-bloggers? You lead cushty old lives ;)
When meringues are involved though, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. I’d eaten two by the time my camera battery had even finished charging. Bad, bad news. Next recipe I make for the blog will need to be something really healthy to compensate, like celery salad or a quinoa…whatever you’re supposed to do with quinoa.
Anyway, these mini pavlovas are pretty delicious. Summer in a mouthful. Temperamental, yes (they crack if you speak too loudly near them, and don’t last more than a day before going soggy) but oh so worth it. One is served in the classic English way, with a dollop of softly whipped cream and lots of strawberries, whilst the other’s a more exotic affair. The cream is replaced with creme fraiche laced with vanilla and lime, and is topped off with chopped mango and shredded mint. It was my favourite of the two, by far.
Meringue recipe adapted from Rachel Allen.
4 eggs (whites only)
300g caster sugar
Quarter tsp. white wine vinegar
Half tsp. vanilla extract
300ml double cream
350g creme fraiche
Icing sugar, no more than 50g or so
1 ripe mango
A few leaves of mint
2tbsp demerara sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees celsius.
2. Put the four egg whites, pinch of salt, and white wine vinegar into a freestanding mixer (or large bowl). Make sure that the bowl you’re using is spotlessly clean. I like to wipe it round with a piece of kitchen paper and and an extra tiny splash of white wine vinegar to be sure.
3. Whisk the egg whites briskly until they form soft peaks, and then gradually begin to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Keep mixing consistently whilst you add the sugar.
4. When all the sugar has been completely added and the mixture is glossy and is at the ‘stiff peaks’ stage (a good visual guide can be found here), stop whisking. Fold in the vanilla extract using a metal spoon, being careful not to knock any air out of the mixture.
5. Line two baking trays with parchment paper, and either pipe or spoon the meringue into ten equally sized and well spaced mounds. Using a palette knife or with your piping, create an indentation in the top of each one to fill with cream and fruit later on. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. When cooked, they should be firm underneath but give a little when pressed gently with your finger.
6. To help them achieve that sexy chewiness, switch off the oven as soon as the meringues are cooked and leave to cool inside with the door slightly ajar.
7. Whilst they’re cooling, add the creme fraiche to a bowl and grate in the zest of one lime. Add in the vanilla extract, and icing sugar to taste. Make sure to taste as you go whilst adding in the sugar, so as not to over power the fresh lime flavour. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to use it, to help it firm up. Whilst it’s in the fridge, whip the double cream until it’s soft.
8. When the meringues are completely cool, move them to serving dishes or plates. It’s best to move them before you put the cream on top, because the weight of the cream can lead to them cracking if you try to move them once assembled.
9. Spoon on some cream or creme fraiche to each meringue, and top with sliced strawberries or chunks of mango. If you like, you can pound up some mint leaves with demerara sugar to sprinkle over the strawberry pavlovas, and scatter fresh shredded mint on top of the mango ones.