This recipe for Pavlova, made with a meringue shell, whipped cream, and fruit, is one of New Zealand's national desserts.
When preparing a Pavlova recipe, the most important thing is to have scrupulously clean utensils, free of grease, egg yolks, or eggshells. In fact, the success of the meringue depends on it. Also important is that the egg whites are at room temperature before beating them to get more volume.
Pavlovas have a habit of deflating and forming cracks when you open the oven but don't be disheartened. Just make some extra whipped cream to fill in the hole if this happens. It will still be a spectacular dessert.
If you use bananas in the topping, toss them in lemon juice to stop them from oxidizing or turning brown.
- For Meringue Shell:
- 4 large egg whites (at room temperature)
- 1 cup castor sugar (also known as caster sugar, berry sugar or superfine sugar)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- For Filling:
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (also known as confectioners' sugar)
- For Garnish:
- 2 cups whole berries or sliced fresh fruit of choice (strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, passion fruit, bananas, blueberries)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Make the Meringue Shell:
- Heat the oven to 275 F/140 C and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with foil and draw a 7-inch circle on the foil with the blunt edge of a knife (don't tear the foil). Set aside.
- In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.
- Gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating continuously until the whites form stiff glossy peaks.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.
- Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center so you have a very slight well in the middle.
- Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a very pale, pinkish eggshell color.
- Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.
- Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the foil and place on a plate.
Make the Filling:
- Whip the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until it forms peaks and set aside.
- Prepare the fruit by washing and slicing.
- Toss cut fruit like bananas and apples with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Garnish the Pavlova:
- Gently spread the cream over the top of the cooled meringue with a spatula.
- Arrange the fruit on top and serve immediately.