It doesn’t happen often, but I think I just invented something amazing. No really! Unless, of course, this is like the original pavlova debate, which would mean that if I googled ‘balsamic pavlova,’ I’d find a New Zealand claimant for… But I won’t do that just yet.
I’d been toying with the idea of substituting another vinegar for the white in my usual pavlova for some time. The inspiration to give it a go came with the first punnet of Scottish strawberries for sale at our grocer in Marchmont. Ila and I could smell them as we walked up Argyll place, even around the corner and past the pub.
Everyone has heard of balsamic strawberries, so this pav seemed like the logical next step. In addition to substituting the vinegar, I used golden caster sugar in place of white. The molassesy-chew of this sugar works well with the balsamic. Golden caster sugar doesn’t dissolve quite so easily into the meringue as white caster sugar, so it’s important to add the sugar really slowly.
I finished the whole thing off with a balsamic syrup, made from boiling sugar and balsamic vinegar.
- 5 medium egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 300 grams of golden caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
For the syrup
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 500 grams strawberries
Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a tray with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating continually throughout. Once all the sugar is incorporated, beat in the balsamic vinegar.
Dollop the mixture into the centre of the baking paper and form it into the shape of a circular cake. Mine was somewhere around 25 centimetres diameter and about 7cm high. Smooth off the top, with a slight slope toward the centre, as this will help hold the cream and fruit.
Just before putting the pav in the oven, reduce the heat to 120°C. Slide the tray inside and bake for 1.5 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar while the meringue cools.
To make the syrup, combine the balsamic vinegar and muscuvado sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. (Try not to inhale the boiling vinegar!) Set aside and leave to cool.
Once the meringue and syrup are cool, whip the cream to firm and spread over the top of the meringue. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on their size and pile on top of the cream. Drizzle the cooled syrup over the top.