Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova…A Springtime Delight

Recently my mom asked me to make this dessert.  She saw it in a magazine.  I wanted to please her for Mother’s Day so I made it today for a family supper; the fruit combination is pure spring; sliced strawberries and lightly stewed rhubarb spooned on top of whipped cream spread over a meringue layer. Meringue isn’t that inspiring, at least that is what I thought a few years ago before I bit into my first slice of pavlova. Clearly this dessert is a case of the results being far more than a simple sum of the ingredients.  It is light, sweet, airy, and basically melts in your mouth.  The topping is usually fresh fruit. I have made it a few times with great success.  But this time I used a mixture of cooked and fresh fruit as my topping since raw rhubarb is wicked tart and needs some taming before it is palatable.  As a kid I loved to cut a stick of rhubarb and dip the cut end into granulated sugar and bite into its crazy tartness! This is much better use for fresh rhubarb.

The old school classic pavlova topping is fresh passion fruit.  We mostly serve it with sliced fresh local strawberries, perfection. It is tasty with blueberries too.  I once used a mixture of ripe summer fruits; peach, nectarine, blueberries, mango and kiwi.  That was really memorable.  Go with what is ripe and flavorful when you are shopping for fruit.  No canned fruit though, only fresh will do.  Except for this particular blend of fresh and lightly cooked fruits.

My sister got the classic pavlova recipe from Food network – a 1999 recipe.  It is naturally GF so no one will ask where the wheat is!  Don’t leave out the red wine vinegar; totally necessary. I confess I have forgotten the vanilla this time and noticed nothing wrong.  I used brown sugar this time slightly more rustic look but great flavor.  Use what ever sugar you like.

I didn’t take many pictures.  Was only thinking of getting it baked and compiled, not of sharing the recipe.  Such a hit and so tasty I had to post on it.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova

Ingredients:

Cake:

1/2 cup egg whites at room temp (about 4 or 5 eggs)

1/8 t of cream of tartar

1/8 t of salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 t cornstarch

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1-2 T light brown sugar packed or white sugar

1/2 to 1 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Fruit Topping:

3 tbsp. amaretto

3 tbsp. honey

1 cup fresh sliced rhubarb

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes more.

While it beats, on a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a 9 inch circle in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should be able to see the circle).

Spoon the stiff egg whites in the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and slightly cracked on the top and the surface is highly browned to the color of cafe au laid, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door just a bit, and let it cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooking, which protects the delicate meringue.

Put the honey and amaretto in a sauce pan, heat, add the sliced rhubarb.  Cook stirring, 3 to 5 minutes.  Do not let the fruit slices fully break down; just soften somewhat.  Turn off and cool.  Pour the mixture over the sliced strawberries, stir and let stand 30 minutes before using. Stir occasionally as it stands.

Whip the cream and brown sugar (or white sugar) and almond extract until stiff. Spoon it on top of the center of the fully cooled pavlova and spread out to within 1/2 inch of the edge, spoon on the rhubarb and strawberries, I used a slotted spoon so I could control how much syrup goes on the cake. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.  Serve extra syrup on the side.

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Yes, this slice is kinda messy looking and it is on a paper plate.  But, it was lick the paper plate yummy.

A cloud of spring fruit flavors.  So pretty and so delicious…and really not that difficult to make. Gluten free naturally and impressive what ever fruit you top it with.  I promise your dessert will be a hit if it is a pavlova!