Pavlova with fresh berries

I've been having a craving for something sweet lately.  Since our St. Louis weather was cool in the beginning of the week I didn't feel guilty heating up the house while baking.   Usually I lean towards dark chocolate desserts, but now that berries are in season I wanted something to showcase them.   

A pavlova is baked meringue, infused with sugar and a hint of vanilla.  Your home will smell scrumptious while this is baking.  It's normal for the pavlova to crack a little after baking during the cooling period.  Be forewarned, this delightful dessert is delicate!  While sliding this pavlova from the baking sheet to cake pedestal a small piece broke off.  No worries, a heaping amount of whipped cream covers the flaws and tastes wonderful too!

The recipe I used is derived from one I found at Simple Recipes.  I reduced the amount of sugar from 1.5 cups to 1 cup.  I find that too much sugar hinders the stiffness of the egg white peaks.  You'll still get glossy egg whites, but now they hold up a little better.  Another difference from the original recipe, is amount of time whipping the egg whites.  It took me nearly 15 minutes using a hand mixer to produce stiff peaks as opposed to 5 minutes they proposed.  The difference could be in my hand mixer vs. using a heavy-duty stand mixer.  I suggest not blindly beating the egg whites, but constantly check the progression of the peaks. 

This recipe makes about 8 to 10 individual servings {each individual pavlova is 3 inches round} or two larger servings {7-inches}.  I made the two larger servings.  One pavlova for me and Mike and the other to take to a girls night.  Well, now I'm down to only one.  I had a little accident.  After taking the pictures, I was placing it into the refrigerator and it slide off the pedestal!  Oh no!  So now I have to decide who gets the lone pavlova, Mike or the Friday night gals.  

PavlovaOnFloor

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Ingredients for Pavlova with fresh berries

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (superfine is preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1.5 teaspoons of cornstarch, sifted
  • 6 large egg whites (6 oz), room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, sifted OR 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy, stiff peaks form
  • your choice of fresh berries, about 1 cup

Directions for Pavlova

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Place rack to middle of the oven.  
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and sifted cornstarch.  Set aside.
  3. Into a large glass or metal bowl, place the egg whites.  Make sure your bowl does not have traces of water or oil because that will impede the egg white volume while whisking.  Using a hand or stand mixer, begin beating the egg whites on a low speed setting.  When the egg whites begin to form small bubbles increase the speed to medium.  Add the salt and cream of tartar (or vinegar).  
  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually add the sugar/cornstarch mixture.  Mix for 1 - 2 minutes.  Add in the vanilla.  Increase speed to high and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form {peak should stay standing on the end of the beater when lifted and inverted}.  Whipping time varies from 5 minutes to 15 depending on your mixer.
  5. On a parchment paper, trace guide circles {7 inch plates or 3 inch glasses work well} onto the paper, then flip the paper over.  Lightly mound the meringue onto the parchment lined baking sheet using a spoon, spatula, or piping bag ensuring the air doesn't deflate from the egg whites.  If making 3" individual sized pavlovas, create an indentation in the middle of the meringue using the back of a spoon which will hold the fruit and cream after baking.
  6. Place the baking sheet into the oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 225 degrees F.  Bake for 60 minutes.  After 30 minutes, check color of the meringue.  If it is turning golden brown, reduce heat by 25 degrees.  After baking, allow to cool completely in the oven with it's door closed.  This may take 1 - 2 hours.  A gradual cooling off will decrease the amount of cracking.  Your pavlova should be crisp on the outside, yet tender like a marshmallow on the interior.
  7. Store pavlovas in an airtight container or freezer bag for 1 week in a dry, cool location. 
  8. Serve topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.