Hello Weekend and Time Enough for Berries

Eating a slice of cardamom pavlova filled with thick honeyed yogurt and topped with a strawberry compote made with market strawberries flash frozen from last season.

Eating a slice of cardamom pavlova filled with thick honeyed yogurt and topped with a strawberry compote made with market strawberries flash frozen from last season.

It is ironic. I had frozen last season's fresh fruit from the market for the Winter. The thought was that I would really enjoy reliving moments from the Summer deep into the cold. Then Winter came and I became a hoarder, convincing myself that I was saving the berries for THE day when it was the furthest from anything warm, THE day that I would cherish my forethought the most. 

That day never came. Winter reluctantly became Spring-like and all three bags of frozen strawberries were still neatly tucked away in the freezer along with a lone bag of peaches. Eventually, I figured it was time enough eat them, so I can without a guilty pang give in to the pleasure of this season's fruit. 

Thawed strawberries from last year's farmers' market.

Thawed strawberries from last year's farmers' market.

So, I have slowly been making headway into the bags. As I type, I only have half a bag left! Yet, once I had made the decision, things did not proceed with much alacrity. Because, I really, really did not want to make pies or smoothies with the frozen berries. Yet again, I was caught procrastinating in my quest for perfection. I just read an HBR article on how quest for perfection may be really an excuse for laziness and non-action. I think they looked into me too well, too deeply. Ha!

Anyway, eventually, I cooked the first batch into a compote to top on Pavlova here and several breakfasts of crunchy granola. I love the textural balance of the crunch from the granola, melting yogurt, yielding into the fleshy softness of the fruit compote. That was the same allure that this combination of meringue crunch, strained thick yogurt laced with honey and cardamom topped with generous dollops of compote had for me. 

A cardamom pavlova topped with strained yogurt sweetened with honey and fresh strawberry compote and sprinkled with pistachios to finish.

A cardamom pavlova topped with strained yogurt sweetened with honey and fresh strawberry compote and sprinkled with pistachios to finish.

I made the meringue using the Swiss technique, which melts the whites and sugar over a double boiler. This process cooks the eggs enough to make them edible without the beed to bake them and gives the meringue great strength. However It can be baked as in this pavlova. Another secret in this recipe is to bake at a real low heat to keep the color of the meringue white. Higher heat easily browns the edges by the time the center is done.

The meringue is flavored with ground cardamom seeds and the same flavor is also infused into the strained yogurt sweetened with honey. Ladling a generous amount of compote on top rounds it off in look and taste. The thing about pavlova is that it is best eaten after atleast 2 hours of assembly, to allow the frosting to soak into the meringue giving it the distinct crunchy outside followed by cake like pillowy middle. The compote thickens overnight but still is even more delicious in the way dried fruits are a more intense form of the flavor.

This pavlova - It is simple, delicious and yet decadent in a especially frivolous way! Perfect for a weekend when the weather is not quite warm but surely past the grasp of cold.... Like today.


Cardamom Pavlova

With Honey Yogurt + Fresh Strawberry Compote

For the pavlova:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of fresh ground cardamom

 

For the yogurt frosting:

1 cup thick Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 T honey

 

For the strawberry compote:

1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed {if they have leaves, then nip the tops off } + the liquid from the thawing

1/4 cup raw sugar

 

Extra:

chopped toasted nuts for garnish

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. It will be very thick and grainy.

Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. 

Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, beat the mixture beginning at low speed going to medium. 

Beat until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Add the cardamom and whip to incorporate.

Spread the mixture to a 6 inch diameter disc. Piling it higher around the edges.

Bake the meringues for an 1 1/2 hours. Switch off the oven and let the meringues cool to room temperature in the cooling oven.

Meanwhile whip together the yogurt frosting and prepare the compote. As the frozen berries thaw they will release a lot of the water. Use the same for making the compote.

Over medium heat, cook the berries in their liquid with the sugar until softened and liquid has reduced by half. Cool to room temperature.

To assemble, spread the yogurt over the meringue. Top with compote and finish with chopped nuts.