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Spatula Diaries: Local strawberries get a lift from easy, homemade meringue

There are about two weeks left for this year’s local strawberry season, and serving them with a homemade meringue and whipped cream is both elegant and easy.

This sweet, light-ish dessert, known as a pavlova, is great with any fresh fruit. In fact, it’s traditionally served with kiwi and other tropical fruits. But since we have plump and juicy Louisiana strawberries at our disposal for a wee bit longer, let’s focus on them.

Making your own meringue doesn’t require special equipment—unless you consider an electric mixer and parchment paper special—so don’t be afraid to give this a go.

Elegant and easy, this pavlova is a great way to show off the last of Louisiana’s strawberry harvest.

Louisiana Pavlova

Servings: 10

Ingredients

Baking spray
Cornstarch (for sprinkling)
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream (recipe below)
Washed and cut fresh strawberries, and other berries or fruits of your choice
Mint leaves for garnish

Heat oven to 275 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, spray it with baking spray and dust with cornstarch. Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high for about 3 minutes, adding the sugar halfway. In the final seconds, add the vinegar and extract. The meringue should be stiff and glossy.

You only need egg whites for this recipe. Use the yolks to make lemon curd, or to enrich any dish that calls for eggs, like bread pudding.

Spread the meringue on a baking sheet in a circular form. The outer rim should be slightly higher than the interior. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the meringue from the baking sheet while still on the paper, and place on a wire rack to cool. After about 10 minutes, remove the paper as well. When the meringue has cooled completely, plate it and top with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Slice and serve like you would a pie.


Whipped cream

Ingredients

1 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the whipping cream into a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until the cream begins to stiffen, add the sugar and extract in the final seconds.Variation: To make individual meringue cookies, cut the baking time in half. Add 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips to the mixture before placing on the parchment paper.


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