I bought a pack of California strawberries a few weeks ago and I thought I would eat them all in a matter of two days, but I didn't.
Eventually, I told myself that if I didn't do something with those strawberries now, they would go bad and I would be lame for letting strawberries go bad.
I also remembered I had a small carton of heavy cream that I bought earlier in the month still hanging out in the refrigerator.
And, I had about 2 dozen frozen egg whites in the freezer.
June 1, 2008
Name of dessert: Giant Strawberry Pavlova
Occasion: I have leftovers
Constituents: two huge layers of meringue, layered with whipped cream and sliced strawberries
Now, I really only needed three or four egg whites to whip up into a couple of meringue discs, but why use four egg whites when I can use seven?
I made two giant meringue layers, and about a dozen meringue cookies. I was going to follow Jamie Oliver's suggestion of baking the meringues for 2 hours at 200 degrees, them letting them dry out in the warm oven. But when I checked in on them after an hour, smoke billowed out, and the meringues were that lovely brown color! I panicked and pulled them all out, and let them cool at room temperature. Did I burn them? Was there something shriveled and black at the bottom of my oven? What happened?
There wasn't anything shriveled and black in my oven, but the foil lining the bottom looked pretty well used. That's the only thing I came up with. Which isn't much.
Anyway, the short bake and room temperature cool left the meringues soft and sticky on the inside. They didn't taste burnt, just a little toasty. I thought that might be a nice contrast to the whipped cream and berries.
And, it was.
However, by the next day the whipped cream had begun to weep, leaving a pool of funky liquid around the edges of the pavlova. It didn't affect the taste, but it sure was unappetizing to see. Next time I make a pavlova, especially a giant one that won't be completely devoured the same day, I will want to stabilize the whipped cream. Let my mistake be a lesson to all of you.