Here is a sweet, crunchy, gooey peanutty spin on the classic pavlova -- with fresh strawberries and cream. If you don’t like peanuts, substitute natural almond butter or hazelnut butter or cashew butter, but don’t miss it.
Note: Use natural peanut butter -- just peanuts and salt, without emulsifiers or sugar. This type of peanut butter separates and must be stirred to reincorporate the oil. —Alice Medrich
6 to 8
For the Pavlova
(7 ounces) sugar, preferably superfine
1 1/2 teaspoons
large egg whites (about 1/2 cup), at room temperature
distilled white vinegar or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
well-stirred natural (preferably salted) peanut butter
1 1/2 pints
A baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Food processor, optional
Electric mixer (preferably a stand mixer with whisk attachment)
In This Recipe
Position a rack in the center of the oven for a single large pavlova, or in the upper and lower thirds for individual pavlovas, and preheat the oven to 275° F.
Trace a dark 7-inch circle on the parchment paper and flip it upside down on the baking sheet. Or, for individual pavlovas, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
If your sugar is not extra fine, you can spin it in a clean dry food processor for 15 seconds. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together thoroughly and set aside.
Combine the egg whites and the vinegar or cream of tartar in the mixer bowl. Beat on medium high speed (in the stand mixer) or high speed (with a hand-held mixer) until the egg whites are creamy white and hold a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the sugar mixture, a heaping teaspoon at a time, taking 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to add it all; you should have a very stiff, creamy-looking meringue.
Scatter small spoonfuls of the peanut butter over the meringue. With a large rubber spatula, fold the peanut butter partially into the meringue leaving lots of streaks and pockets of unmixed peanut butter visible.
For a single pavlova, scrape the meringue into the traced circle and use a metal icing spatula or a rubber spatula to sculpt the mass into a low dome -- smooth or swirly, it’s up to you. Bake the pavlova for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it looks golden brown with a distinct pinkish hue and feels crusty on the surface, though it will be marshmallow-y inside. It may be cracked on the surface -- that’s ok.
Set the baking sheet(s) on a rack to cool completely (they will probably sink a little). If you are not serving the Pavlova(s) the same day, cover it loosely and leave it at room temperature; it keeps for several days.
To Serve: Cut the berries in halves or quarters if they are large. Beat the cream with the vanilla until it is almost stiff. Slather the dome with swirls of cream and garnish with berries. Pass a bowl of extra fruit if you like.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).