An enterprising hotel chef in 1920s New Zealand was the first to whip up a Pavlova, a culinary tribute to visiting ballerina Anna Pavlova’s ethereal, wispy beauty. They’re a perennial favorite of those lush islands, and in Australia, too, where every cook worth her salt has a recipe. Down under, the crisp-chewy meringues (delicately crunchy on the outside, cloud-like and a bit marshmallowy at the center) are often topped with passion-fruit, kiwis, and other local fruits. I used unaltered end-of-season peaches and raspberries; you might make a quick berry sauce or substitute whatever fruit’s in season and on hand.
Pavlova has an easy elegance, and its effortless charms make the dessert very well-suited for dinner party afters: bake the meringue days ahead (leave it out at room temperature, loosely covered), prep the fruit and cream in the morning and assemble faster than a pirouette for a graceful, simple dessert.
Pavlova with Peaches & Raspberries
adapted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich, 2012; serves 6-8
- one cup superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- one teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- one cup heavy cream
- one teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- one pint raspberries or blackberries
- 2-3 large, ripe peaches, sliced
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. On a large piece of parchment, trace a salad plate to make a 7-8″ circle. Flip the parchment over and place on a baking sheet; set aside. Mix the cup of sugar and cornstarch together.
To the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and vinegar. Whisk on medium-high; it will look frothy at first and then start to turn creamy and soft-looking; at that stage, with the machine running, start to sprinkle in the sugar by the tablespoon. Continue whisking until your meringue is glossy and very stiff, about 3-4 more minutes. (You can’t really overwhip this type of meringue, so don’t worry.)
With a spatula, transfer the meringue to your parchment. Spread within the traced circle in loose swirls. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until lightly beige; it will feel crisp on the outside and likely cracked a bit in places. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you aren’t serving it that day (pavlovas will keep for several days), loosely cover with foil or plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature.
When ready to serve, whip the cream with the vanilla and 2 teaspoons superfine sugar. Dollop the cream over top and pile the peaches and berries on top of the cream. Serve.