Turkish Coffee Strawberry Pavlova

Strawberry season is upon us! Which means going through recipe books to find a unique recipe that uses strawberries. After going through (a lot of) books, blogs and websites, I decided to make a healthy cinnamon-apple cake with strawberries. I also tried to make it healthier by using whole-wheat flour. Turns out that you shouldn’t try things one by one- which is why my cake deflated and didn’t turn out as fluffy as I wanted it to.

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As much as I wanted to fix that recipe (and I will, soon)- I still had a lot of fresh strawberries that I picked up from farmers market the other day! It’d be a shame to let them sit in the fridge when they could be the star of a delicious dessert, so I tried to take things easy and do something that I knew I could get right- a strawberry pavlova!

Now meringues, I bake a lot. Pavlova, not so much. It had been a long time since I made one, but whipping egg whites is just like riding a bike. Once you get the hang of it, the rest is easy. I used quark in the middle instead of sour cream (It has 4 grams more protein than sour cream per 100 g- make sure you get your protein guys) but you can always stick to the original if you want to.

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The big twist is the Turkish ground coffee beans, which I folded in the meringue with the cornstarch. I love using Turkish ground coffee beans in desserts occasionally, usually I mix them in cookies with the cocoa powder for a slight aroma. But this time, it’s time for the coffee to shine. The rest of the ingredients are all fresh (strawberries, quark, mint), sweet (strawberries, meringue) and I think the bitterness of the coffee contrasts this duo nicely.

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Before eating, my mother asked me where this dessert came from and whether it was Russian. She was incorrect, but not entirely. Pavlova comes from a far far away continent, Australia, however, it was named after a Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. A hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand created this wonderful crunchy dessert when Ms. Pavlova visited there back in 1926. Although controversy still surrounds the origins of pavlova, nowadays it’s a summer dessert enjoyed worldwide and commonly served as a Christmas specialty in the southern hemisphere.

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Crunchy on the outside and marshmallowy in the inside, pavlova does soak up moisture from the cream. If you’re aiming to maximize the crunchiness, don’t assemble the dessert until you serve it, considering that the assembly of pavlova is simple and quick. Also, with only 129 calories per slice and 7 grams of protein, it makes up for a very healthy and light dessert!

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 80-90 minutes

Oven: 200ºC/390ºF at first, then 120ºC/250ºF

Serves 6

Nutritional info (approximately, per serving): 129 calories, 3g fat, 7g protein, 17g carbs

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 125 grams of icing sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 0.25 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Turkish coffee grounds

For the filling/decoration:

  • 150 g of quark
  • 120 g of strawberries (big ones chopped, spare the small ones for decoration)
  • Mint leaves (big ones chopped, spare the small ones for decoration)

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF.
  2. Separate the egg yolks and beat the egg whites while adding sugar gradually, until hard peaks are formed. Add the vinegar and stop the beater as soon as it’s incorporated. Click here, to read my tips on how to make a good meringue.
  3. Sift the cornstarch and coffee grounds in the mixture and fold 6 times max.
  4. Put two dollops on an oven tray lined with parchment paper and spread the two layers. You can make the top layer smaller, like I did, or make both the same size depending on your aesthetic.
  5. Lower the heat to 120ºC/250ºF, and bake for 80-90 minutes. Make sure the color isn’t too brown, it’s okay for it to be slightly brown since we added coffee grounds.
  6. When done, leave it in the oven to cool down. It should come out the parchment paper pretty easily. If you have to force it, that means it hasn’t cooled down completely yet.
  7. Mix the chopped mint leaves in the quark and spread on the bottom layer (spare some to go on the very top). Stack up the chopped strawberries, the top layer, another layer of quark, small strawberries and mint leaves.
  8. Optional: Drizzle some honey, sift some icing sugar, sift some icing sugar with coffee grounds mixed in, serve with vanilla ice-cream… Bon appétit!
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