Strawberry Pavlova~

Strawberry Pavlova (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups superfine or regular granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 envelope Whip It (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)

To prepare meringue: heat oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a circle on the paper using an 8- or 9- inch cake pan as a guide. In bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and salt. Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to high. Continue until satiny peaks begin to form; gradually beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny.

Sprinkle in cornstarch, white-wine vinegar and vanilla, and fold in gently. Mound onto parchment within circle, and shape into a disk, flattening top and smoothing sides. Place in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 300º. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and allow meringue to cool completely in oven.

To prepare topping: in a mixing bowl, combine strawberries, vanilla, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

To serve, invert meringue onto a plate, and carefully peel off parchment. Whip cream (add Whip It* and powdered sugar if desired) until it is thick enough to hold peaks, and spread it evenly over meringue. Cover cream with strawberries. Serve immediately.

*I add Whip It to stablize the whipped cream. If dessert will be eaten on the day it is made, this is not necessary.