The meringue part of a pavlova can easily be made a day or two in advance—but it's the whipped cream that gets tricky. While plain old whipped cream has a tendency to weep and wilt, Nancy Silverton's genius crème fraîche whip is longer-lasting and more reliable. That means you can make it ahead of time, and even assemble your pavlova before dinner starts.
This version is flavored with almond and cardamom (a combination I love), but you could easily replace the almond extract with vanilla extract and/or omit the cardamom entirely. Flavor the whipped cream how you'd like and switch up the fruit, too. Two fun ideas: chocolate whipped cream with brûléed bananas; or date syrup whipped cream, crumbled halva, and fresh figs.
8 to 10
For the meringue:
almond extract (or use vanilla extract)
(200 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or potato starch
ground cardamom (optional)
egg whites, from about 4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace a 7-inch (18-centimer) circle on the paper. Flip the paper over.
Combine the almond extract and vinegar in a small cup. In a small bowl, whisk together the starch, sugar, and cardamom.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt. Start on low, then increase the speed to medium until you see soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes (the egg white bubbles will be small and uniform).
Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly stream in the sugar-starch mixture, a tablespoon at a time. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, slowly pour in the almond extract-vinegar mixture. Increase the speed and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form, 4 to 5 minutes.
Spread meringue onto your traced circle, leaving a well/crater in the center for the cream and berries, if you’d like.
Bake for about 75 minutes, until the outside is dry to the touch and creamy in color. Crack the oven and let the meringue cool completely inside.
For the whipped cream and the strawberries:
Macerate the strawberries: Mix the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour, until the strawberries are juicy.
Make the whipped cream: Add the cream to a bowl of a stand mixer. Start on low speed until the cream thickens enough not to spatter, then increase the speed to medium high and continue to whip, stopping the machine before the cream will hold soft peaks. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish whipping the cream by hand with a whisk. Fold or gently whisk in crème fraîche and almond extract, if using.
Once the meringue is cooled, transfer to a plate. Fill the crater (or cover the whole surface) with the whipped cream. Spoon the macerated strawberries over the cream, then add the fresh raspberries. Garnish with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.