A few weeks ago when I posted about my last batch of mustards, a got a few comments from friends who thought it was a post about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at first glance, and that got me thinking about the good ol’ PB & J. We’ve all had them and we all know that they taste good, but I think when you get older and try a wider variety of foods and tastes, you can forget just how good those kinds of simple flavor combinations really are. So, I decided to make a more grown up version of a PB & J sandwich by fusing the flavors into a pavlova (there are layers! That is…kind of sandwichy.)
If you are unfamiliar with pavlovas, they are essentially layered “cakes” made from meringue discs, fruit, whipped cream, and sometimes fruit preserves. But the meringue discs in a pavlova aren’t like the hard little meringue cookies you get at the store, instead they are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside, kind of like a toasted marshmallow. I incorporated peanut flour into the meringue and the whipped cream for some of that creamy peanut flavor, and made some quick strawberry preserves for layering along with fresh strawberry slices. At first I topped it with just a strawberry cap as a garnish, and then with several whole strawberries. You can see in the very last photo of the post that the weight of them made the meringue discs crack a bit, but it still held together just fine. So it’s entirely up to you if you want to have a teensy cute little garnish or a giant heaping one.
But when it was all combined together, it created this wonderfully rich amalgamation of different flavors and textures. Sweet, creamy, fruity, nutty, crunchy, whipped, wet, dry…it was as if all of my favorite desserts aspects (aside from custard) had been combined into one dish. I have been trying to cut down on sweets lately, and was going to have Jeremy take this in to work last Monday so his coworkers could eat it…But alas, here it remained in our fridge, victim to the evening snack and afternoon dessert, until all that was left was a crumb of meringue and a smear of jam. As you can see from the photos, this was quite a feat for two people. But we managed. And I think you will, too.
PB & J Pavlova
- 2 Cups Strawberries chopped
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
Peanut Whipped Cream
- 3 Cups Whipped Cream
- 3 Tablespoons Peanut Flour
Peanut Meringue Discs
- 6 Egg Whites
- 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Peanut Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Corn Starch
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Cup Sliced Strawberries
- 6 Whole Strawberries optional
- First, make the meringue discs. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they begin to stiffen but aren't dry. Gradually beat in the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time. Continue beating on high speed until the egg whites are shiny and thick, then fold in the vanilla extract, corn starch, and peanut flour. Spread the egg whites out in 3 separate smooth-topped 8-inch circles on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 4 inches between them. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar (about a quarter of the way open) and the pavlova to cool to room temperature. Then remove the pavlova from the oven.
- While the pavlova is baking and cooling, you can make the whipped cream and jam. To make the whipped cream, whisk together the whipped cream and peanut flour until nice and thick. Cover and refrigerate until use.
- To make the jam, heat the strawberries and sugar over medium heat until simmering. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow the jam to cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and place the pot in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- When everything has cooled, you are ready to assemble the pavlova. Remove one of the meringue discs from the baking sheet (I've found that two pancake spatulas placed underneath either side of the disc do a good job of transporting it without cracking) and place it on the serving surface. Lightly spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the dsic, then lightly spread a small amount of the jam on top. Layer the slices strawberries in a circle around the outer border and continue in towards the center. Stack the second meringue disc on top and repeat this process. For the third disc, repeat the same steps with the whipped cream and jam, but be more generous with the jam and whipped cream since this is the top of the pavlova. Garnish the top with a leftover strawberry cap or the whole strawberries. Serve immediately.