This has gotta be my personal favorite dessert of all times. If you are unfamiliar with Pavlova, it is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. This dessert is as gorgeous as it is delicious and best of all, it looks so complex and impressive, you’d think it's incredibly hard to make, but no, it is quite simple and made with very few ingredients that I bet you have on hand. Pavlova has a lovely crisp shelled crust with a chewy and tender inside, then is topped with freshly whipped cream and tart fresh fruit.
The Great Pavlova can also be made ahead and if wrapped (gently) in plastic can be kept for a week. I like to store mine in an airtight large plastic container. Then all you have to do on the day of is whip your cream and prepare your favorite fresh fruit. Because this dessert is so light it is the perfect ending to a heavy or rich meal.
This recipe came from Cook’s Illustrated and I have made it several times, always with perfect results. I recommend having a candy thermometer or a laser thermometer to accurately measure the temperature of the egg whites as well as a standing mixer with a whisk attachment.
Ingredients for the Meringue:
1 ½ cups (10 ½ ounces) sugar
¾ cup (6 ounces) egg whites (about 5-7large eggs)
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Using a pencil draw a 10-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper.
Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl standing mixer and place the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1-inch simmering water, making sure that water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Whisking gently but constantly, heat until the sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 160-165 degrees, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Fit the stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip egg mixture on high speed until methe ringue forms stiff peaks, is smooth and creamy, and is bright white with a sheen, about 4 minutes.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a spatula then add vinegar, cornstarch, and vanilla and whip on high speed until combined, about 10 seconds.
Spoon about ¼ teaspoon of meringue onto each corner of a rimmed baking sheet then press the parchment paper with the marked side down, onto the baking sheet to secure it in place.
Pile the meringue in the center of the circle and spread into a 10-inch circle. The finished disk should measure about 1 inch high.
Bake the meringue until the exterior is dry and crips and meringue releases easily from the parchment paper when gently lifted at the edge with a thin spatula, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Turn the oven off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and let the meringue cool in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before topping about 15 minutes. (Cooled meringue can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week)
For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream chilled
2 Tablespoons sugar
Directions for whipped cream:
Beat cream and sugar in a standing mixer with a whisk attachment until the cream has doubled in volume and has soft peaks.
Carefully peel the meringue away from the parchment paper and place on a large serving platter. If the meringue cracks, it’s okay, as the whipped cream and fruit will hide them.
Spoon the whipped cream into the center and spread almost to the edge.
Top with your favorite fruits.
Let stand for 5 minutes for easier slicing.
Option to make individual Pavlovas:
Instead of one 10-inch circle, you can make ten 3 ½ inch circles.
Place parchment paper on 2 rimmed baking sheets, spread 5 3½ inch disks of meringue on each sheet, then place in the oven at 250 degrees for 50 minutes.
Shut the oven off, prop the door open and let the meringues cool in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
Top with whipped cream and berries as above.
Fruit topping options are endless, just use your favorite berries and fruits. I used kiwi, blueberries, mango, strawberries in the video. I just LOVE how colorful, fresh, and vibrant this looks and my friends and family do too!