I was ecstatic and literally jumping for joy at the sight of a little punnet of raspberries gracing our organic box this week. We didn't sign up for fruit, but it seems they must have an abundance of berries, for a week ago we had strawberries. My karma must be working well for me.
I wanted to do something tasty with them, rather than just eating them with a bit of cream or yoghurt, but I'm didn't want to break their flesh or crush them by putting them into a batter of some sort. Truth be told, I had already decided to make mini pavlovas. The meringue was to be crisp on the outside and soft, fluffy and moist on the inside.
I've been making pavlovas since I was about 10 using a recipe that was in the Good Cheap Cookbook, which my mother still owns, even though it's made from newsprint, is extremely flimsy and old and returns no results from Google. It's a recipe I shall always remember and will probably take to the grave with me. It's quite simple really, but I remember middle aged women being in awe of my ability to make pavlova from scratch when they've usually resorted to buying a store bought one or using Pavlova Magic. For the large Pavlova, I take 4 egg whites per 1 and a half cups of caster sugar. Using a stand mixer with a balloon whisk, beat the whites on the high setting and add the sugar a little at a time. (I've made this recipe many, many times with a hand mixer, which works absolutely fine, just takes a little longer.) Once all the sugar has been incorporated and dissolved, fold in 1 teaspoon of cornflour, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. Shape into a circle on a tray with baking parchment. It needs to be round and flat on top like a cylinder. Cook the pavlova in a 150 degree Celsius oven for 45 - 60 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the pavlova in the oven until it has cooled.
For these mini meringues, I used 2 egg whites and proportionally less sugar. I think I could've cooked them a little longer on a lower heat and used slightly less vinegar, as they didn't turn out as crispy on the edge as I would've hoped. But, as they say, live and learn. I gave them a little hat, because I had so much mix left over, and you can never have too much meringue! I made an additional filling as well, mixing together some Philly cream cheese, a bit of Greek yoghurt, some icing sugar and a few of the crushed berries. I basically used up what I could find in the fridge to make this filling, as I didn't feel like popping to the shops, and Dan had used the last of the creme fraiche in the vegetable tart he had just made. I would definitely make the filling again, but just use the cream cheese, berries and sugar, maybe a touch of cream but no yoghurt. It was tasty besides and the berries were definitely the star of the plate - which was the intended purpose.