A crisp meringue gives a unique eating experience, as you feel it crunching and melting simultaneously. A perfect meringue dessert, with its fissures and epic swirls, also presents a beautiful landscape for garnishes. If you were able to shrink yourself to approximately 1 inch tall, this dessert would be the gnarliest surf break frozen in time. While this might be impossible, we can always live vicariously through the myriad fruits, nuts, purees and whips of the world as they garnish our pavlova gigantata, aka giant meringue. Turn on, tune in … eat pavlova.
Yield: one 12-inch meringue
Mezcal Strawberries and Toasted Coconut
- 2 cups strawberries, quartered
- 3 tablespoons mezcal
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons pure cane sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup dried shaved coconut
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1⁄4 cup potato starch
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup ice-cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
To make the mezcal berries, in a medium glass bowl, combine the berries, mezcal, lime zest, lime juice, pure cane sugar and salt. Let the berries rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. While the oven is preheating, spread the coconut shavings on the baking sheet and toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the coconut to a bowl, but keep the lined baking sheet for the pavlova.
To make the pavlova, in a food processor, pulse the sugars and potato starch until uniformly combined and substantially more fine. Sift the mixture and set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt to stiff peaks, add the water and whip 1 minute. Add the sugar mixture little by little — a tablespoon at a time — while continuing to whip the meringue. When you’ve added half the sugar mixture, add the lemon juice. Keep whipping and adding the sugar mixture. When all the sugar is incorporated, whip another 2 or 3 minutes, until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Taking care not to deflate the meringue, form one giant mass in the center of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a spatula, gently work the meringue closer to the sides of the baking sheet into whatever amorphous shape suits your fancy. (After all, perfect circles are for squares, man.) As you work, be sure to pull straight up with the end of the spatula to create interesting shapes and curls of meringue.
When you are finished with your edible art project, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and place the masterpiece in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F (keep the oven door shut!) and bake another 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringue rest another 10 minutes, then open the oven door and let the pavlova cool for another hour or so.
To make the whipped cream, using an electric mixer — or a whisk and some elbow grease — whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
To serve, carefully peel the parchment away from the pavlova (or better yet, serve on the paper to aid in cleanup) and garnish as you see fit with heaping spoonfuls of whipped cream, the berries and the toasted coconut. This is a grab-and-grub scenario, so don’t even bother slicing it — just provide plenty of napkins and scold people who don’t wash their hands before digging in.
Reprinted with permission from Egg Shop: The Cookbook (2017) by Chef Nick Korbee.
This recipe originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Chickens magazine.