Strawberry Eton Mess
Sooo… I did something a little risky the other day.
I bought high-waisted jean shorts that are slightly cheek exposing. This means one of two things– one, I’ve become a girl who can rock cheeky shorts.. Or two, I’ve become THAT girl who wears cheeky shorts and really should not be.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, okay, a lot of the time, I judge a book by its cover. It’s not a good quality, I know, but it’s the truth and admitting it is the first step, right?
I judge a girl when she’s wearing too cheeky of shorts and shouldn’t be, I discriminate against Pavlova, I choose desserts based on chocolate quality, I decide which restaurants to go to depending on the atmosphere, select coffee shops because of the sweet foam art, and choose books to read because of one quote I liked, etc.
So, how are Pavlova, cheeky shorts, and judgmental thoughts interlinked?? In brief, I didn’t want to be the second girl who wears too cheeky of shorts and shouldn’t be and my desserts-only diet doesn’t help me avoid that. Except for you, Pavlova, you sexy little thing.
In the case of Pavlova or really any meringue-based dessert, I’ve always been less than amused. Not because I have tried it and I didn’t like it, but because at first look, it’s just not my kind of chocolate/ice cream/decadent dessert. I decided to make Pavlova after I fell in love with the Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake and because it is relatively healthy in the grand scheme of desserts… which should help me with my cheeky shorts dilemma. And also, because I really really wanted to make a naked cake. No, I’m not talking about a cake you bring to a bachelorette/bachelor party, but a simple cake with fresh fruit, minimal frosting, and layers.
For my first naked cake to celebrate Spring, Pavlova seemed like the obvious choice. Now, I know it’s debatable if Pavlova is actually considered a cake since it’s kind of just a large meringue… But one bite into it and I promise you will not be bothering yourself with a cake debate.
But alas, as you can see by the title of this post I did not succeed in making a pretty naked Pavlova cake. I did, however, succeed in convincing Tony that Pavlova was “totaaaally healthy” as we quickly demolished the entire thing in a swift ten minutes and then proceeded to go on a run. But case in point, this is a healthy dessert because had it been a Chocolate Cake, we would most definitely have felt too sick to go on a run after eating it!
So since my first naked Pavlova cake was slightly unappealing in a strictly aesthetics sense, I created Eton Mess. Also known as, smashed up meringues with whipped cream and fresh fruit, which also happens to be the best solution for ugly Pavlova.
Eton Mess calls for meringues, but I LOVED the texture of the Pavlova and I didn’t want to search for another recipe. Besides, I figured meringues and Pavlova are pretty much the same thing, except for the fact that meringues do not call for cornstarch and are cooked all the way through, whereas Pavlova has a delicately crisp exterior and a soft and fluffy marshmallow inside. Whether you make Eton Mess with an ugly leftover Pavlova or meringues, it is a simple dessert with minimal ingredients, light as air, and is then topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit… The perfect way to celebrate Spring!
Stawberry Eton Mess adapted from Ina Garten:
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
¼ cup granulated sugar
Juice from half a lemon
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Pavlova, preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw six 4-inch circle on the paper, using a 4-inch pint glass as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won’t get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circles on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circles, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
- For the strawberry sauce, combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked strawberry mixture into a food processor and pulse a 2-3 times until strawberries are roughly chopped. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
- For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm.
- To assemble, roughly crumble the pavlova nests in a large bowl and fold in sweetened whipped cream and strawberry sauce. Arrange in 4 serving glasses and top with strawberries. Alternatively, you can layer the pavlova, sweetened whipped cream, and strawberry sauce in 4 serving glasses.