I first enjoyed a bitter, citrusy refreshing Pimm's Cup at happy hour on the courtyard at the Napoleon House in New Orleans, garnished with cucumber and lemon. This is an elegant but easy dessert inspired by the summery cocktail. I use a variation of Lorraine Pascale's meringue base for my Pavlova; of all I've tried it consistently provides a crisp exterior with a mallow-y center. —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
large hothouse (English or seedless, with edible skin) cucumber
large egg whites
zest of one lemon, reserve for a bit of juice
strawberries, stemmed and hulled, then quartered or sliced to your liking
Slice the cucumber into rounds about 1/4'' thick, then quarter. Place in a zip top bag with 1/4 cup of sugar. Let sit 1-4 hours to make a no-cook cucumber simple syrup. Reserve the syrup and the now-candied cucumbers separately.
Preheat the oven to 275F with a single rack on the bottom level. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then add a squeeze of lemon juice, 1/2 of the lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar plus a small pinch of salt. Continue to whisk until soft peak stage, then add 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until shiny, stiff peaks form.
Dollop the fluffy egg white meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, forming with a spatula into a circle about 8 inches in diameter, with the sides slightly higher than the middle. Bake for 1 hour (the meringue may take on a slight beige, but you don't want too much color). Then turn off the oven but leave the meringue inside with the oven door ajar until cooled completely, 2-4 hours.
In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with 2 Tbs sugar, the other half of the lemon zest, a small pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper, and the bitters. Let macerate for about an hour, until they form their own syrup. Bitters are actually bitter, so if you are not used to them, start with 1/8 tsp, taste the macerated berries, then add or opt out of the other 1/8 tsp.
When ready to assemble, whip the heavy cream with the cucumber simple syrup (about 1/4c) and vanilla until soft. Pour the whipped cream into the meringue base. Combine the candied cucumber and the macerated strawberries and pour with their juice over the meringue and whipped cream. Enjoy!