This is a wonderfully light, sweet and colorful summer dessert! I made this for the first time in 1994 from a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine and have been making it every summer since then. This is a great dessert for potlucks and picnics and I like to make this when fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are in season and just pile the fruit on! The bright colors of the berries make for a spectacular display and kids can’t resist stealing bits of the meringue before it even reaches the table!
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1-2/3 cup superfine sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch, more for the baking sheet
2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling:
2 cups whipping cream, chilled
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
approximately 3 cups fresh berries
mint sprigs to garnish
Preheat oven to 275 degrees (F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust the sheet with cornstarch.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar slowly, about a tablespoon at a time. Combine the cornstarch with the last 2 tablespoons of sugar and add them together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, continue whipping and slowly add the vinegar and vanilla. Whip for another minute. The mixture should be very glossy and fluffy.
For a Large Pavlova:
Spread the meringue on the prepared baking sheet into a 7-inch round, about 3 inches high, using a spatula or spoon. Make a shallow depression in the center to allow room for the filling.
For Individual Pavlovas:
Use a three ounce ice cream scoop and stack two scoops, snowman style, for each pavlova. With a spatula, smooth the sides to join the two scoops and make a shallow depression in the center.
Use a one-ounce ice cream scoop or two tablespoons. Drop one scoop onto the parchment for each pavlova and make a shallow depression in the center of each.
Put the pavlova in the heated oven and immediately turn down the heat to 250 degrees (F). Bake, without opening the door for at least the first 45 minutes (less for the minis), until they’re crisp and dry-looking on the outside with just a hint of ivory color (individual, 1-1/4 hour; minis, 35-40 minutes) and then turn off the heat and leave in the oven with the door cracked for another 30 minutes. Remove the pavlova from the oven and put the baking sheet on a rack to cool.
Up to 1 hour before serving, whip the chilled cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the honey, if using, and whip another few seconds to blend. Carefully peel off the meringue from the parchment paper and set it on a serving platter or plates. Fill the center with whipped cream and top with fresh fruit. Decorate with sprigs of fresh mint and a light sprinkling of icing sugar. Keep cool and serve within one hour. Enjoy!