As a child, the dessert that I looked forward to every summer was strawberry shortcake. So popular in our family, that my sister often requested it as her cake for her June birthday celebration. But the shortcake has given way to pavlova for me as the desired summer confection. I adore the way the meringue holds up to the berries and cream but melts in the mouth and doesn't leave you that 'too-full' feeling.
This past spring I visited with Jessica of Harmony Fields and in typical fashion - one that I have dubbed 'the Farmers Way' - I left with a precious gift in hand. So named because I rarely leave a farm without some offering from their land. Sometimes garlic, sometimes potatoes, in this case Duck Eggs. There was no doubt what I was going to do with these treasures. Fortunately I had some raspberries in the freezer from the previous year so I defrosted those, added a little sugar, whipped some cream and made pavlova.
Pavlova is really just a meringue - so really any egg white will do, chicken, goose, although I think quail might be a bit labor intensive, it could work. Now the challenge is that eggs do vary in size from chicken to duck to goose. But in this case the duck eggs were very similar in size to large chicken eggs so I didn't worry about egg white volume and just followed this recipe. Another way to change up your pavlova is to use different sugars, how about brown sugar? I might have to try that this summer....
Recipe from Ina Garten
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Once cooled - add lightly sweetened whipped cream and the berries or fruit of your choice. Try peaches or figs. Fresh and raw or cooked into a compote - this dessert can handle it all. I'm confident this will become your summer favorite as well!