All said and done, if you're comfortable working with meringue, it's super easy. If you're not, it's a little intimidating but utterly doable!
I happen to be terrified of meringue. I can't tell by looking at it if I'm at the soft peak or stiff shiny peak stage, so I did a few searches and found this picture guide to be extremely helpful. If your meringue cracks (like mine did) or deflates, it's still delicious and beautiful. Add a little more whipped cream and call it good.
This is a light, relatively cheap dessert to make. Go ahead and try it for Pentecost this Sunday! If it flops, you're only out 4 egg whites, some sugar, and a few minutes of work. If it succeeds, you've got a beautiful heavenly puff of confection that is sure to impress even the most discerning epicure.
Inspired by: What's for Lunch, Honey?
For the meringue
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kirsch (optional)
- 1 pint strawberries (or any fruit/nut/chocolate!)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Kirsch (optional, replace with 1 tsp. vanilla)
- 1 Tablespoon apricot or orange preserves or jam, thinned with water (optional)
For the meringue
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Draw a circle approx. 8" in diameter on a sheet of baking paper. Place, pencil-side down, on a baking tray.
- To make the meringue, whip the egg whites (in a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, or with a whisk) to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl. Once all the sugar has been added whisk for another 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Make sure the sugar has dissolved completely and the meringue is not grainy. Add the cornstarch folding gently with a spatula, then pour in the vinegar and the kirsch and fold through.
- Spoon the meringue onto the baking paper and using a palette knife shape into a circle using the penciled mark as a guide. Pull the meringue upwards around the edge to create furrows, which will support the sides of the pavlova. Make a well in the middle, which will hold the filling. Make sure the base of the meringue is not too thin.
- Turn the heat down to 210° F and bake the for 1 ½ hours until the pavlova is dry and crisp. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven, with the door ajar until cooled completely – 4 to 5 hours. Do not remove the meringue from the oven when it is still warm as it will cool too quickly and may crack and collapse.
- Slide the pavlova onto a plate and spoon the filling into the center.
- Wash and hull the strawberries.
- Whisk the whipped cream, vanilla, and sugar until stiff and fluffy.
- When ready to serve, fill the meringue with the whipped cream, arrange the strawberries over the top and brush with apricot preserves to make them shiny. Serve immediately.