Thankfully neither I nor Lolly have much to worry about in the way of dietary restrictions. Yes, we try to keep things reasonably balanced and healthy, and she does have an allergy to kiwi (and also shrimp, if her more recent paranoia is to be believed), but otherwise we eat whatever makes us happy. Occasionally, however, I cook for friends where gluten sensitivity is a problem, so one of my go-to dessert options is Strawberry Pavlovas.
These are basically baked meringue cakes that are made with no flour. They are also very low fat until you put the whipped cream on top. Here is what you will need to make 6 servings:
- 1 pint strawberries
- 1/4 cup sugar + 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.
Hull and chop or slice the strawberries according to your preference, then toss them in a bowl with the 1/4 cup of sugar until they are evenly coated. Refrigerate them until the pavlovas are ready to serve.
In a food processor, mill the 3/4 cup of sugar using the pulse button until it reaches a fine texture (or simply use extra-fine sugar). In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are foamy, then add half of the fine sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, sift the rest of the fine sugar with the cornstarch. Add this to the egg whites along with the vanilla and vinegar and blend until incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into 6 piles on the parchment paper. Use a spoon to create an indentation in the center of each pile.
Bake for 40 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the pavlovas in the oven untouched for at least another 20 minutes to finish. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
To serve, simply top the pavlovas with the strawberries and pipe on some whipped cream. These are always a big hit whenever I make them, even for us non-gluten-sensitive types. The cakes are sweet and crumbly, with an interesting chewiness to the texture. Prepare for big happy grins all around. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!