This meringue dessert, with its crisp outer shell and billowy, marshmallow-like soft inside, is sure to make a big impression with your guests. Topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, Pavlova is a light dessert choice – perfect for indulging in after a heavy meal! We used fresh cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a festive look but you can always top with the fruit of your choice.
Prep time: 30 min • Bake Time: 1 hour • Total Time: 3 hours • Makes: 8 servings
For the meringue
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the fruit topping:
1 pound fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
To prepare meringue:
Preheat oven to 180°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a 9-inch circle on the paper. Tip: you can trace around the bottom of a 9-inch baking pan. Just remember to turn the tracing over so the egg white mixture doesn’t come in contact with the pencil line.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture is thick and glossy. Don’t overbeat. You want the mixture to have airiness and volume. Using a sifter, add cornstarch then vanilla, and lemon juice; fold in gently using a spatula, just until combined.
Spoon meringue mixture onto the parchment paper. Work within the circle, from the inside to outer edges making a disk-like shape. Build the outer edge up slightly so there is a slight depression in the center of the meringue. Place in oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let the meringue cool completely in the oven – about an hour.
To prepare cranberry topping:
Add cranberries, sugar, water, and vanilla bean to a small saucepan. Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 3-5 minutes. You just want to soften the cranberries, not cook them completely. Remove from heat, remove vanilla bean and let cool completely. Drain any remaining liquid before use.
NOTE: You can also refrigerate for a few days if you wish to prepare in advance. Before using, remove from fridge, drain any remaining liquid, and let come to room temperature.
To make whipped cream topping:
In a small bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
NOTE: The cream can be whipped up to 1 day ahead. To store, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Before use, whip it again briefly.
To assemble pavlova:
Remove meringue from parchment paper and place on a serving dish. Spoon whipped cream onto center of meringue and top with cranberries. Garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary. Using a fine sifter, dust with confectioners’ sugar.
NOTE: Always assemble the Pavlova right before serving to prevent meringue from becoming soggy.
FRUIT TOPPING SUBSTITUTES:
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
3 Kiwi, sliced
2 Bananas, sliced
1/2 pint blackberries
Just remember to toss any fruit that will brown (kiwi, banana, peaches, pears, apples) in a splash of lemon or lime juice before topping meringue.