Strawberry Pecan Pavlova with Yogurt Whipped Cream

Strawberry Pecan Pavlova

Growing up my mother kept a small framed picture in the kitchen window of a woman at the kitchen stove, several small children and a small zoo of pets all vying for her attention. Below it was the caption, “Love makes all things easy” Once I was old enough to starting helping out with the kitchen, I would spend my time washing the dishes staring at this little picture. I didn’t get it. The scene was dreadful to me – all those kids – all those animals. As a child, I never really got what my mom saw in the picture. It seemed so outdated in my childish world view. To me she was a modern working mom. I didn’t see her spending countless hours cooking, cleaning or darning our socks. Of course she did all of that and more, but she did it so effortlessly that I didn’t see it.

love makes all things easy - original

My junior year of high school I had an artistic friend draw an updated version of the picture for Mother’s day. In this version two daughters stand at the kitchen sink washing the dishes. The mother stands behind them dressed in a business suit. Below this picture was the same quote, “Love makes all things easy.” She loved it. She still keeps the two pictures framed, side by side. It was probably the best and least expensive mother’s day gift I ever got her.

love makes all things easy - updated cbedenbaugh

Adapted artwork by Catherine Bedenbaugh

It wasn’t until now that the quote meant anything to me. In fact, when I started working on this post, I had my father scan the pictures for me and send me the images. When I looked at them I was shocked to realize that I had remembered the quote completely wrong. Until seeing the pictures again, I thought the pictures read “A mother’s work is never done.”

Flash forward twenty-three years. I am now the mother with the kids and the pets at the stove. I get it. I really really get it now. Love makes all things easy. It’s not true you know. I love my kids, my pets and my hubby. That love is great and wide and the vastness of it could swallow the world, but it does not make things easy. Three young kids is hard; really really hard. Love does make one more tolerant though. Not quite as catchy a quote is it?

Hubby asked me last night what I wanted for mother’s day. I replied that I didn’t need anything from him. The things I really need he can’t provide; a full night of uninterrupted sleep when no child needs me, freedom from mother’s guilt, and a mother’s worry. The things a mother really wants are not bought or sold, they are elusive.

So for all the mothers out there, here is my gift to you: I can’t make it easy, I can’t give you sleep or peace-of-mind, but I can give you a pillow of cream sitting on a mountain of strawberries floating in a cloud of pecan-kissed meringue.

For Easter this year I made this Strawberry Meringue Cake from Southern Living. The meringue is made with toasted and ground pecans that make this oh-so-very-special. It was beyond delicious, but the piles of whipped cream and Mascarpone were just a bit rich for my tastes and I wanted something with a little more flavor than plain whipped cream.

As usual, Cooking Light has the perfect solution in their most recent issue. You can make a lightened whipped cream by whipping the cream with Greek Yogurt. The result is a creamy luscious topping with a slight tang and a rich mouthfeel. I use slightly more sugar than called for in the Cooking Light recipe, but the cream is something special! I will be making this cream all-the-friggin’-time! I’d eat this on pound cake, pie, ice cream, brownies or plain from the mixing bowl with a big-ole spoon…

For those cooking for special diets these will also be a hit. They are gluten-free, grain-free and low in fat and calories.

My version of the Strawberry Meringue Cake is transformed into an individual dessert. Small circles of pecan meringue are topped with fresh sliced strawberries and then topped with just enough yogurt whipped cream to bring the whole thing together. The result is lip-smacking fantastic. The sweet meringues are to-die-for with the slightly salted toasted pecans. Top the whole thing off with strawberries and cream and what could possibly go wrong – except that you might eat them all before they make it to the table. Enjoy!

Strawberry Pecan Pavlova

Strawberry Pecan Pavlova with Yogurt Whipped Cream

Strawberry Pecan Pavlova with Yogurt Whipped Cream

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar, divided

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 4 cups)

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt

1/2 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pecans for 10 minutes in a small pan, stirring once, or until they are fragrant and slightly darkened. Remove the nuts from the oven and reduce the temperature to 200 degrees.

Allow the pecans to cool and then combine in a food processor or blender with the cornstarch, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Pulse the pecan mixture until the nuts are finely ground but it has not yet turned to nut butter. Set aside.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper and set aside. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed in a large bowl. When they are very foamy begin adding a 1/2 cup of the sugar a little bit at a time. Beat at medium-high speed until the sugar has incorporated and the egg whites hold a stiff peak. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue or use a spoon to arrange the meringue on to the parchment sheets in eight equal circles. Use the back of a spoon to round out the edges and to make a slight indention in the center of each meringue.

Bake for an hour and a half, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the cooking time. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for another two hours or overnight. After this time check the meringues to see if they are crispy all the way through. If they are crispy they will feel dry not sticky and will be firm when pressure is applied in several locations. If they are not yet crispy, you can continue to cook them for another hour in an oven set to 170 degrees. If they brown slightly it is okay but not desired. If you are making the meringues ahead of time seal them in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap.

Hull and slice the strawberries. If you want a juicer sauce you can puree a small handful and add back to the rest of the sliced strawberries. Cover the strawberries and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

To make the yogurt whipped cream combine the cream, Greek yogurt, sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Use a knife to make a slit down the length of the vanilla bean. Use the knife to open the bean and scrape the seeds out of the middle of the vanilla bean. Add the scraped seeds to the cream mixture and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. The whipped cream will hold for a few hours in the refrigerator.

To assemble the desserts top each meringue with about a half cup of strawberries and about three tablespoons of the whipped cream. You can assemble the pavlovas up to an hour ahead of serving.

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3 Responses to Strawberry Pecan Pavlova with Yogurt Whipped Cream

  1. joan wiggins says:

    Thank you my sweet daughter. Now when I look at these pictures, I also think of you.

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