Some occasions in life just call for a fancy dessert. And for those occasions, a dessert with bourbon infused whipped cream and strawberry sauce fits the bill nicely. These show-stopping Bourbon Mixed Berry Pavlovas will leave any crowd wanting more with their incredible flavor and vibrant, eye-catching colors.
As we enter spring, we find ourselves looking for “lighter” desserts that don’t weigh us down. Heavy cakes laden with chocolate are cast off to the side, just for a bit, while fruity desserts take center stage. During this time, we begin to utilize the fruits in season. Why? Because not only are they more economical during this time, but they’re at the peak of their prime. Their flavors are most intensified during their season, leaving us with nothing but the fantastic flavors we yearn for in our desserts.
I decided to top these pavlovas with a combination of fresh berries–blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. But, if these berries don’t create a combination that is to your liking, feel free to omit or swap out any of them for fresh fruit that you do like. The meringue shells serve as a blank canvas, so you can transform this dessert into anything you can imagine.
Bourbon and Mixed Berry Pavlovas
Yield: 6 individual pavlovas
4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
8 oz (30 ml) granulated sugar
½ tbsp (7.5 ml) cornstarch
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 ml) white wine vinegar
1 pint (475 ml) fresh blueberries
1 pint (475 ml) fresh raspberries
1 pint (475 ml) fresh blackberries
Bourbon Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Bourbon Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw six even circles about (4 inches in diameter) on one side, spacing them out into two rows. Flip the paper over, and now you have a stencil for your meringues. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and vinegar. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch, mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt. Start the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed, and continue to whip until the egg whites get frothy and soft peaks just begin to form, about 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Increase speed to medium-high and slowly stream in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Continue mixing about 2 minutes, and then add the vanilla and vinegar mixture. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until the egg whites are glossy and stiff peaks form when you lift the whisk, about 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Using a piping bag, fitted with a star tip, pipe out the meringue evenly into each of the stenciled circles. If you don’t have a piping bag with decorating tips, you can use a large food storage bag with the tip cut off. Or, you can just spread out the meringue with an offset spatula. Whatever method you choose, just make sure the edges of each meringue are higher than the center, for filling purposes.
5. Bake for about 1 hour or until the meringues are dry and slightly firm. They should be a pale cream color. Halfway through baking, rotate the pan. If you find that the meringues are becoming dark too fast, lower the temperature to 225°F. After an hour, turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar. Allow the meringue to cool down completely in the oven.
6. Once completely cooled, spoon some of the Bourbon Whipped Cream in the center of each meringue shell. Top with the Bourbon Strawberry Sauce and the fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Serve right away. The shells can be made a few days in advance, stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you are not eating the pavlovas right away, do not top them with the cream, sauce or berries until ready to serve. Enjoy!
Bourbon Strawberry Sauce
Yield: about 1 cup sauce
Tools: saucepan, blender or food processor
1 pint (475 ml) fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 tbsps (45 ml) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch
2 tbsps (30 ml) bourbon
1. Place the sliced strawberries, sugar and lemon juicein a saucepan. Mix and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down and simmer.
2. Add the cornstarch, mix and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Once the berries are soft and the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and mix in the bourbon.
3. Allow sauce to cool slightly. Blend the sauce in a blender or food processor, until smooth, and let it cool down completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Bourbon Whipped Cream
Yield: 2 cups of whipped cream
Tools: Electric mixer
16 oz (475 ml) very cold heavy whipping cream
2 oz (60 ml) powdered sugar
2 tbsps (60 ml) bourbon
1. Whip the very cold heavy whipping cream by hand or with an electric mixer, until the cream begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and bourbon, and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over mix the cream as it could turn to butter rather quickly. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Jonathan Melendez is a contributor at The Boys Club and blogger at The Candid Appetite.