Dining In With Ina and a Not-So-Perfect Pavlova
One of the most seasonally delicious things about spring is the abundance of fresh berry desserts found on so many restaurant menus. Fortunately, I live a few blocks away from perennial NYC hot-spot Balthazar which serves a Berry Pavlova just as elegant as the ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, for whom it was named. It is a fluffy delight for any sugar addict, like myself. However my patience for making a dinner reservation is not always in line with the timing of my confectionery craving, so why not try Ina Garten's Mixed Berry Pavlova at home?
The recipe calls for strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries over a sugary meringue cloud topped with a Framboise infused raspberry sauce. Whole Foods or any green market will have an excellent selection of berries around this time of year and strawberries are unusually cheap right now. While this is not great news for the farmers, strawberry lovers are very lucky!
In my first attempt I "sped up" the process by not waiting for the eggs to come to room temperature. I knew this dessert would take some time but I didn't have all day, so what difference would it make? Apparently, a BIG difference! I started out with a gloppy egg mess that I had to discard as the peaks and valleys I was hoping for did not come to fruition. For my second try, I decided to immerse the eggs in very warm water to bring them up to room temperature quickly but not cook them. Ta-dah! In ten minutes I had room temperature eggs with whisked peaks and valleys to follow.
After an hour and a half of baking the meringue at 180 degrees and an hour of cooling in the oven I had a luxurious large disc. I added the fresh berries, whipped cream and raspberry sauce before cutting not-so-perfect slices as the entire Pavlova cracked from my cake knife. While it was not as elegant as Balthi's it tasted just as sweet. However, if you are serving this to guests I would highly suggest making individual Pavlovas maintaining the delicate appearance before cracking through!