Pavlova is a dessert that I had never tried until I made it myself. I’d heard about it for years, but never saw it on menus or ran across a friend who knew how to make one. Finally one day, having a lot of leftover egg whites after making pasta, I decided I would give it a try–and I’m very glad I did because it is delicious. It is now a staple recipe in my kitchen.
A pavlova is essentially a giant meringue that you bake until it is crispy on the outside but still a little soft on the inside, and then top with whatever you like–usually whipped cream and fruit. You can make tons of variations of this, depending on what you add to the meringue base or use to top it, but the recipe I’m sharing with you today is probably my favorite iteration.
A little history lesson for you: the pavlova was named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The light and airy meringue base was thought to be reminiscent of the dancer’s tulle tutus.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together the egg whites, salt and sugar together until the mixture is glossy and peaks form. Next, sprinkle in the cornstarch and add the vinegar and vanilla extract. Gently fold together until just combined (any easy way to check this is to fold until you cannot see the caramel colored streaks from the vanilla).
Spoon the mixture into a pile on a parchment lined baking sheet. Smooth into a disk about 8″ in diameter. Place in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 300 degrees. Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven and allow to stand for 2 hours, or until the oven has completely cooled. Meanwhile, whip the cream with a teaspoon of sugar until thick. I actually like to over whip my cream just a little, so that it’s dense instead of light and fluffy, but this is entirely up to you.
When you are ready to serve the pavlova, invert it onto a serving dish, so that the “bottom” of the meringue faces up. Spread with a thin layer of lemon curd or apricot jam. Spoon over the whipped cream and spread evenly. Top with with the blackberries, crushing half of them with your fingers as you sprinkle them on the pavlova so that the white cream gets flecked with the beautiful purple juices.
Cut into wedges and serve.
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