Organic strawberries on a hazelnut pavlova

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

I must explain why I use the word ‘organic’ in this recipe. The strawberries we were getting were so delicious, so intensely flavoured, perfectly ripe and chaotically shaped that we had to serve them simply and in abundance. It would have been a crime to trick them out in a clever recipe, and I wanted to emphasize that it was the strawberries themselves that were the stars of the dish. If you do this dish with thinly flavoured, water-puffed strawberries, you will need to do a song and dance routine as well to get a smile from your guests. You could, of course serve the strawberries on a slice of an ordinary large pavlova, but these individual ones are no harder to make.

Ingredients

For Eight Pavlovas

  • 4 egg whites
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 40 g hazelnuts, finely ground
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • 250 mls single or double cream
  • 800 g organic strawberries
  • a little icing sugar

Method

PREHEAT AN OVEN to 250°F (Gas Mark ½). Whisk the egg whites until they are very stiff. Whisk in about a quarter of the sugar until the whites become glossy, then repeat this with three more batches of sugar. With the last batch of sugar, add the hazelnuts, cornflour and vinegar. Line an oven tray or trays with baking parchment. Spoon the meringue on to the parchment in roughly circular mounds of about 6cm diameter but quite tall, say about 5 cm. Make as many as you have meringue and room for, they won’t go to waste. Level the tops and put them in the oven for 75 minutes. Then turn off the oven but leave the pavlovas in there for a further hour. Check them occasionally during this time, however, as you don’t want to end up with chalky, dry meringues instead. To be proper pavlova only the outsides can be crisp, the inside must still have that soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture of beaten egg white. When you are confident that your pavlovas have found this perfect balance, take them from the oven and leave them to cool.

Whip the cream until it is stiff enough to stand up on its own. Take about 100g of the strawberries, puree them, sieve them and add a little icing sugar to this sauce. Make sure the rest of the strawberries are at room temperature, take their little green hats off and chop any over-sized monsters in half. If you doubt their sweetness, sprinkle a little sugar over them up to half an hour before you serve them.

Place a pavlova in the centre of each plate with a 1-2cm layer of whipped cream on top, then place as many strawberries on top and around the pavlova as is physically possible and edible. Pour a stream of the strawberry sauce around and over each pavlova too.