From the Archives: Summer Berry Pavolova
Years after this post was originally put up on the blog, I’m still as smitten with this pillowy dessert as ever! My own blueberry bush, growing in a five-gallon pot on my deck, produced a bumper crop this year. I knew I needed to pull up this recipe from the archives and show it to you again. In addition to the blueberries, a neighboring gardener gifted me with beautiful and sweet raspberries and blackberries. And of course the eggs are farm fresh from free range chickens. Delicious!
From the Archives
There’s something magical about summer twilights. And something even more magical about fresh blueberries on 4th of July celebration desserts. I have many a fond memory of eating homemade ice cream topped with fresh blueberries and then running through dewy grass in the twilight with sparklers or chasing lightning bugs.
I first came across fresh fruit pavlova while living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I can remember everything about the scene of my first bite – it was that delightful. A crisp shell of a meringue with a melt-y middle topped with ever-so-slightly sweet fresh whipped cream and (for that first encounter) kiwis and blueberries spilling off the plate. If ever the heavens should point a sunbeam directly on my head and issue forth an angelic chorus, it should have been at the moment of my first bite in that roadside Irish inn.
Since then, I’ve learned this dessert really hails from New Zealand and was named after a Russian ballerina so I think it classifies as an international dish even though there’s nothing regionally distinctive in its flavors. Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe directions. It really is just a lot of mixing and that’s all. These little puffs of marshmallow-y delight are well worth the 20 minutes of shouting required to be heard over the mixer.
SUMMER BERRY PAVLOVA
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 carton of heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. sugar or Splenda (Splenda recommended as it dissolves better)
2 pints fresh seasonal berries
Preheat the oven to 225 F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature. If you didn’t have time to let them sit out beforehand, place bowl of egg whites inside another large bowl filled with warm water for 15 minutes. Using the room temperature egg whites, begin beating them on low speed with an electric mixer (just a word to the wise, don’t attempt this recipe without some type of electric mixer as it takes a great deal of whipping). Add the cream of tartar, pinch of salt and nutmeg to the mixer and continue at low speed for 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Measure out the sugar and add to it the corn starch and nutmeg, mixing these three ingredients in the measuring cup. Set aside for later.
Returning to the egg whites in the mixer, increase the speed to medium and soft peaks should begin to appear after another 2 minutes or so. Increase the mixer’s speed another notch or two. Begin to slowly add the sugar mixture, sprinkling in just a few tablespoons at a time. Let mix for 2 or 3 minutes more. Slowly add the vanilla extract and increase the mixer speed to the highest setting. A glossy sheen should be appearing and the whites should become increasingly stiff. Once “stiff” peaks form, turn off the mixer and remove the bowl.
On the lined baking sheet, place heaping spoonfuls of meringue and flatten down slightly, creating a shallow indent in the center. Leave plenty of room between spoonfuls as the meringue spreads and rises quite a bit. You should be able to get six on a sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, checking on them about half way through to make sure the meringues are not coloring or cracking. Remove from oven when meringues are crisp and dry to the touch but still relatively white in color. You don’t want these to get golden like typical meringues on pies. Gently lift the meringues off the parchment paper and place on a wire rack or kitchen towel to cool. If you don’t want to use them right away, store meringues in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
To serve pavlovas, whip heavy cream with 1/4 c. sugar/Splenda until firm, but not stiff. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream on top of each meringue and top with a generous handful of fresh berries. Serve immediately.
(makes 8-10 servings)