If you like meringue, but you’ve never had a pavlova, you’re missing out. Pavlovasare sweet meringues that are baked until crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside. There is some debated over when the recipe was first developed, and whether it was in Australia or New Zealand, but in either case, it has been around since approximately 1930 and is just as popular as it ever was. The meringue shell is typically very large – almost cake-sized – for a pavlova and the size helps give it its unique, cloud-like interior as it bakes. The size also allows plenty of room for whipped cream and other toppings to be piled on before serving.
Whipped cream is definitely the topping of choice for pavs. I know that some people – including myself on occasion – have mixed some whipped cream with sour cream or yogurt for a slightly thicker topping that is a bit lighter (in terms of calories) than straight whipped cream. Regardless of what type of whipped topping you decide to use, top it off with some berries.
Kiwis and strawberries are popular choices, but I used a mix of berries for mine. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are all excellent. Fresh berries are the optimal choice, especially since fresh, ripe berries are still readily available at this time of year. If you can’t get them, however, frozen berries can work just as well. Defrost them completely before using and take advantage of the fact that they are often frozen with a bit of juice and drizzle a bit on top of the pavlova before serving for an extra splash of color.
The shell of the pavlova will crack easily under the pressure of a fork, but you should still be able to slice it and serve as you would a cake or a pie. If you want a smaller pav, try baking four smaller sizes with the recipe amount given below. They might be a bit crisper than their full-sized counterpart, but with whipped cream and berries to top them off, I highly doubt you’ll hear any complaints.
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup heavy cream
sugar, to taste
Preheat oven to 275F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly trace a 9″ circle in pencil (use a pie plate as a template).
Beat egg whites to soft peaks in a large bowl, gradually adding in sugar and salt as you beat the whites. Once the egg whites have been beaten to soft peaks, whisk together cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla in a small bowl. Quickly beat into egg whites with electric mixer.
Using a spatula, spoon meringue into the center of the traced circle. Spread to within 1/2-inch of the sides of the circle, leveling the top as you go.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Pavlova will be firm to the touch and should be a very pale beige when done.
Turn off oven and leave the pavlova inside until oven is cool, 2-3 hours.
To serve, gently transfer pavlova to serving platter. Beat heavy cream to soft peaks with some sugar, sweetening to taste. Top pavlova with whipped cream and berries. Cut into wedges to serve.