What’s a girl gotta do to get a birthday cake around here?
The answer: make it herself.
And I’m totally OK with that. Because then I get to have EXACTLY what I want. #jobperks.
Being a June baby, my mom always made me a strawberry shortcake to celebrate my birthday. Since I was feeling a bit nostalgic this year, I decided a strawberry-themed dessert was just what I needed to ring in my special day. And because I’m a full grown adult (at least on some days ), I decided I needed a bit of bourbon too. So I constructed these individual Chocolate Pavlovas with Bourbon Strawberries and Whipped Cream. And let me just tell you, they are too die for!
Pavlovas are a delicate, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth meringue base that is traditionally topped with lightly sweetened fruit and pillows of soft whipped cream. If you haven’t made a pavlova before, don’t fret. It’s all very easy. But there are a few tricks you should know. First, use room temperature egg whites, which will fluff up more easily than cold egg whites. Second, make sure you don’t have any trace of fats/oils in your eggs whites (i.e. no bits of yolk), mixing bowl or on your whisk. And third, whisk the egg whites gradually, increasing the speed slowly, until you achieve very stiff peaks. If you flip your whisk upside down, the batter should be able to hold it’s shape and stay (almost) upright.
Delicious and beautiful, these Chocolate Pavlovas with Bourbon Strawberries and Whipped Cream are one birthday present that I certainly won’t be returning!
Recipe for the pavlovas adapted from Simply Recipes
Chocolate Pavlovas with Bourbon Strawberries and Whipped Cream
- For the Meringue
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- For the Strawberries
- 1 lb strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- For the Whipped Cream
- 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 2 tsp. bourbon
- Pre-heat your oven to 275 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Make the pavlovas. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt for about 2-3 minutes, starting with your mixer on low speed and working your way up to medium speed. The bubbles should be very small and uniform.
- In a small bowl mix the sugar and the cocoa powder. With your mixer on medium-high speed, gradually add the sugar/cocoa powder mixture to the egg whites. Add the vanilla extract. Continue whisking on high speed until the batter is glossy and stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. The batter should be able to hold it’s shape on a spoon or whisk, even when turned upside down.
- Spoon the batter out onto your prepared baking sheets, making about 8-10 rounds and placing them 2-3 inches apart from each other. Using your spoon, create a small indentation in the middle of each mound, being careful not to make the mounds too thin because they will spread out a bit during baking.
- Transfer your baking sheets to your pre-heated oven and reduce the temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the pavlovas are crisp and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow the pavlovas to cool on their baking sheets. Once completely cooled, the pavlovas can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. The pavlovas may crack during baking, or as a result of moving them around. That's normal and all part of the rustic elegance of this dessert.
- While the meringues are baking, make the strawberries. Remove and discard the stems from the strawberries. Cut the strawberries in half (or in quarters if they are large). Toss the cut strawberries in a medium bowl with the sugar and the bourbon. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Make the whipped cream. Place the bowl of your mixer and the whisk attachment in your freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill. Once chilled, remove from the freezer and immediately add the cold heavy cream and start whisking on medium-high speed. Once the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and bourbon. Continue whisking on high until peaks form. Whipped cream is best when used immediately after making it, but it can be stored in your refrigerator for a couple hours if necessary.
- To assemble, top the pavlovas with whipped cream and strawberries. Serve immediately.