Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Anniversary Strawberry Pavlova
Saturday was my 9th wedding anniversary. I cannot believe it has been nine years already. I can honestly say that I love my husband more today than the day I married him. I am a better person today than I was nine years ago, because of him. I really didn't know my husband all that well when we got married but he really did sweep me off my feet. Such a romantic, that man! I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and that together we would be just fine. We had a small wedding in Tennessee. I lived in Ohio, he was in grad school in Boston, my family was in Florida and his family was divided between Ohio and Indiana. Tenneessee seemed like a good place to marry. We thought about eloping but then decided to invite family. I am glad we did. The wedding pictures with my dad are some of the last pictures I have of him.
The picture above is the back of my very wrinkled dress and veil. I loved those little rosettes; they were the only embellishment on an off white, matte satin, a-line dress. I loved that simple dress so much.
For our anniversary I made a strawberry Pavlova. I know that Pavlova is made with raspberries but strawberries just sounded better. I know Ina Garten makes this with mixed berries and calls it "Chantilly meringue with mixed berry sauce" or something like that. Strawberry Pavlova is so much easier to say, I think. We really enjoyed this! Pavlova is a very grown up dessert since the flavors and textures are rather sophisticated. I love it. I did not give up on my sugar free and wheat free decisions, since I made this whole thing with Splenda. Wow, I love that stuff but it is super expensive!
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup Splenda or fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest from 1 orange - divided in two
1 lb. fresh strawberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup splenda
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. It is important that the bowl is clean of any fat or the meringue won't fluff and rise correctly. I sometimes wipe the bowl with vinegar to be extra sure. Add 1 cup of the Splenda and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Spread this into a 10 inch circle onto the parchment paper. It will be about 3 inches thick.
Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringue is dry and crisp. Turn off the heat and allow the meringue to cool in the oven for about 4 hours. If it cools in oven this way, it will get and stay crisp. The mantra for meringue when I was in culinary school was "dry and crisp but never brown" I think Splenda browns more easily than sugar because this browned in about 45 minutes but was not dry.
Meanwhile, cut the strawberries in half or for large ones in quarters. Combine about half of the strawberries and the water and Splenda in a small sauce pan along with half of the orange zest and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher. I think I should call my potato masher just a masher since I mash everything with it except for potatoes. Cool this sauce completely and then stir in the remaining strawberries.
I like to put the bowl and the whisk into the freezer for about a half hour before whipping the cream since a very cold bowl, whisk and cream will make very nice, fluffy whipped cream. Whip the cream with an electric mixer with a whisk. When it starts to thicken, add the Splenda, vanilla and orange zest and continue to whip until you have stiff peaks.
To serve, remove the parchment from the meringue (it should peel right off) and spread the whipped cream on it. Top with the strawberry sauce and enjoy! By the way, this doesn't keep well at all, so enjoy ALL of it with someone you love!