I started out the day by giving each of my kids a list titled, “10 Things I Love About You.” Sadly they were much more interested in their peanut butter-filled chocolate hearts and getting to school to see their friends and exchange valentines. I can’t blame them, that was my favorite part of Valentine’s Day too. But oh, how I enjoyed writing their lists last night before I went to bed.
Tonight after what I’m sure will be a hectic dinner, I’ll pull out the mini pavlovas for them and we’ll top them with strawberries and cream and we’ll laugh together for a few minutes before bed. And I’ll hug them a little tighter just to make sure they know who loves them most.
Folding cacao nibs into the meringue makes these extra special. They provide a hint of chocolate nuttiness without being too overpowering. There’s also a nice crunch to contrast with the pillowy softness of the pavlova. Balsamic-marinated strawberries are surprisingly perfect with the nibs. All around, I can’t think of a more appropriate dessert for the ones I love.
- ¾ cup egg whites, about 5-6 at room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1½ Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- ½ cup coarsely ground roasted cacao nibs (I used Ocumare nibs from Amano)
- 1 lb. strawberries, sliced
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. really good aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with a piece of parchment paper.
- Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together, rubbing any lumps between your fingers. Beat the egg whites and salt using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar/cornstarch by tablespoonfuls and beat well. Add the vanilla and vinegar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
- Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, form mounds of meringue on each parchment-lined baking sheet. About 5-6 each sheet.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are dry and very lightly golden in color. Turn off oven and prop open the oven door and allow to cool completely. Remove from oven and store at room temperature until ready to serve. (If making on a humid day, serve immediately.)
- To assemble:
- Toss the sliced strawberries with the sugar, balsamic vinegar and vanilla. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
- Beat the heavy cream with 2 tsp. of the sugar until peaks form. Place a pavlova in a bowl, top with cream and balsamic strawberries and serve immediately.
- Yields about 10-12 small pavlovas, or can also be made into two giant ones.
Strawberry Pavlova Cake with Lemon Curd
Individual Cheesecakes with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries from Mountain Mama Cooks
Double Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova from The Naptime Chef
Red Hot Meringue Cookies from Project Domestication