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Irish Strawberry Pavlova

In Ireland, strawberry season is upon us in all its glory. I mean, seriously. It’s glorious.

I’m used to massive, sour, otherwise tasteless strawberries in Canada. I know there are a few good u-pick strawberry fields in Ontario and Nova Scotia, but even they don’t seem to compare to the plump, juicy, sweet berries on offer here in Ireland.

Every time we drive somewhere (generally going between Waterford and Tipperary) we see folk setting up their precarious, too-close-for-comfort roadside strawberry stands, selling only the best “Wexford Strawberries”. And they are fabulous berries.

And now, are you ready for a shocking revelation? I hate fruit in Canada.

Now, there are a few exceptions to that statement. Nova Scotia blueberries are the best blueberries in the world. I mean this. Our Annapolis Valley apples can be lovely and a few other native fruit species are pretty good, too. When in season.

For the most part, though, fruit in Canada is imported. While it’s unripe. Which means, by the time it has ripened it’s basically sour or tasteless. I didn’t realize fruit could really be delicious until I moved to Asia. Grape season in Korea is wonderful – grapes that actually taste like grape juice! Same with mandarin orange season, persimmon season… you get my drift. In Korea, if the fruit is not in season, it’s a) next to impossible to find and b) super expensive.

While I’m not sure about year-round fruit eating in Ireland just yet, I do enjoy making weekly visits to our greengrocer, Peter, in Templemore for guaranteed sweet and juicy fruit. He is a picky guy, and he only picks the best. Since we’ve moved, I’ve started eating oranges again. And mangoes, and apples and strawberries!

Let’s get back to the strawberries. I haven’t been able to enjoy raw strawberries in years – not since my Aunt Joan would pick her own and serve them sliced with cream for dessert. In fact, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about strawberries and cream since strawberry season began. With that in mind, I made a pavlova. We don’t really eat pavlova in Nova Scotia, but it’s one of Patrick’s favourite desserts. With a simple meringue base, I was able to get what I wanted: a freshly whipped Chantilly cream topped with mounds of juicy Irish strawberries. Heaven.

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Irish Strawberry Pavlova

Ingredients:

100 ml egg whites (4 or five large eggs)

150 ml icing (confectioner’s) sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

250 ml heavy cream (35%)

1 Tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 pint fresh “Wexford” strawberries

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  • In a clean glass bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) whisk the egg whites vigorously until soft peaks begin to form.
  • Slowly, in 4-5 increments, add the icing sugar to the egg whites, whisking after each addition.
  • Continue whisking until the meringue begins to hold it’s shape. You still want a soft peak, but it should stand up on it’s own when tested.
  • Add the lemon juice and vanilla, whisk until all is incorporated.
  • You can pipe individual meringues onto the parchment paper at this point, or simply scrape the entire contents of the bowl onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Using a spoon or spatula, shape the meringue so that the center is slightly deeper than the sides. This is where the cream and strawberries will go after it’s baked.
  • Place the baking sheet on your oven’s middle rack. Once it’s inside, immediately lower the heat to 120 degrees Celcius. Bake for approximately 90 minutes at this temperature. When finished, the outside should be firm and the inside should be the texture or marshmallow.
  • When the pavlova is finished baking, I always turn off the heat and leave it in the oven until it’s completely cool (usually another hour or hour and a half).
  • To make the Chantilly cream, whisk the heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks begin to form. Then, add the icing sugar. Continue to whisk until the cream can stand up on it’s own but is still smooth, with soft peaks.
  • When the pavlova is cool, heap the Chantilly cream onto the meringue and top with plenty of fresh strawberries. Keep in a cool place until ready to serve. Best eaten the same day it’s made.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hey, you know this is a case of absolute Irish thievery and that the real authentic pavlova, the only pavlova, comes from Australia…don’t listen to the New Zealanders either. They like to think they invested it but we know better. I make my pav with castor sugar not icing sugar and mostly dish it up with strawberries, banana and the obligatory kiwi fruit and passionfruit.If you’re interested, my recipe is on my blog. It comes from the great Australian cook Margaret Fulton whjo is now something like 92 years old and still cooking.

    December 5, 2014

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