The other day I was chatting with someone who had no idea what a salmonberry was. We were walking along a trail and I stopped to pick a few berries off a nearby bush, popping them in my mouth like tic tacs as I went. I got some strange looks from my walking-mate, who asked me what the berries were and if they really were safe to eat.
I grew up eating salmonberries, or, as their scientifically called, Rubus Spectabilis (which makes me think of some awesome Harry Potter spell… maybe that’s why I love them so much?)
Salmonberries are tart little berries that grow by in abundance here on the Pacific Northwest. I had no idea they were so specific to North America – apparently they only grow along the coast of Oregon, Washington, BC, and up through Alaska. They’re tart and slightly sweet, and resembling small raspberries more orange in colour.
Having grown up plucking them from bushes as a child, I always get a sense of nostalgia when they start to appear in the late spring/early summer.
I originally wanted to make a salmonberry pie, but I couldn’t pick quite enough for that. I settled on these cute little mini pavlovas, which are a fabulous way to use up fresh berries. I know a lot of you won’t have access to salmonberries, but if you do live in an area that has them in bloom, try these pavlovas! The tart berries tastes lovely on a bed of sweet honey whipped cream and chewy pavlovas.
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, (I could go on and on) would be great replacements to the salmonberries in this recipe.
If you haven’t had pavlova before, it is essentially a meringue-like dessert with a crisp, soft, marshmallow-like inside. They are chewy and sweet and light and fluffy and perfect when topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.
Pavlova may seem fancy and classy (and it is!) but it’s a cinch to make. It is usually shaped into a large, pie-sized “cake”, but I prefer to make them as individual servings. They’re cuter that way. All you need to do is whip some egg whites with sugar, then fold in a hint of vanilla extract, corn starch, and vinegar. The hardest part is shaping them into such small circles, since the mixture is a bit sticky, but that’s nothing a little finger lickin’ won’t fix.
Bake low and slow – 275°F for 45 minutes – until slightly browned and hard to the touch. Then turn off the oven, leaving the pavlovas inside as the oven cools completely. I suggest leaving them in there overnight so they can slowly come down to room temperature.
The pavlovas can be made a few days in advance as long as they are stored in an airtight container. Then, when you’re ready to serve as an impressive dessert, simply top with some honey-infused whipped cream, fresh berries, a bit of basil for colour and flavour, and a drizzle of honey.
If summer had an official dessert, it would be this.
|Mini Pavlovas with Salmonberries, Basil & Honey Whipped Cream|| |
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Honey Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2½ Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups salmonberries (or strawberries, sliced)
- Honey, to drizzle
- Fresh basil leaves, juilienned, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a small glass or bowl, trace circles on the parchment paper that are about 3½-inches in diameter. Flip the parchment over - you should be able to see the lines through the paper which will work as guides when shaping the mini pavlovas.
- To make pavlovas: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Continue beating and add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until thick and glossy, about 8 more minutes. Gently fold in the vanilla, cornstarch and vinegar. Scoop meringue mixture onto baking tray, filling the circles you traced and shaping them into circles. This could get messy! Try using the back of a spoon to shape the circles, wetting it every few minutes to keep the pavlova from sticking. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours to cool completely (preferably overnight). Once cool, gently lift off the parchment and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- To make honey whipped cream: Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer for 10 minutes until cold. Beat whipping cream, honey, and vanilla in the bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Top pavlovas with whipped cream, fresh berries, a drizzle of honey, and basil if desired. Serve immediately.