Sometimes you make a recipe because you've been wanting to make it for a long time. You're craving it. Sometimes you make a recipe because you messed up another recipe and now you're stuck with a dozen egg whites. That would be the reason I made this pavlova, and I have to say that I am so glad I messed up the other recipe. Besides eating a bunch of healthy egg white omlettes, my blunder with the Cookbook Challenge Recipe No. 2-- Vanilla Ice Cream-- left me with 12 egg whites. T-W-E-L-V-E!!! Now, I have read that you can freeze egg whites for later use, but why do that when you could add a bunch of sugar, some whipped cream, some fresh berries and have a delicious pavlova? Why indeed??
This mixed berry pavlova, adapted from an Ina Garten recipe, will make you look super-fancy at your next dinner party and it really is The. Easiest. Dessert. to throw together. I promise.
Mixed-Berry Pavlova (serves 6-8)
- 4 extra large egg whites
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsps cornstarch
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- handful of berries and a few mint leaves
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. With a pencil, trace an approximately 9" dinner plate on parchment paper. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with butter and place parchment paper-- circle-side down-- on the cookie sheet. The butter will help keep the parchment paper from slipping while you're spreading your meringue into the circle.
Add the egg whites and pinch of salt to your Kitchen Aid mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. While the mixer is still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form... about another 2 minutes.
Sift the cornstarch over the stiff peaks and add the vinegar and vanilla extract. Gently fold these ingredients into the egg whites and delicately spread/pile the meringue into the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Smooth it out-- but don't press too hard, you want to keep that air in there.
Place the meringue in the oven for approximately 1.5 hours. Then, turn off the oven, keep your oven closed, and leave your meringue in there for another hour. After another hour-- or you can leave it in longer-- your meringue will be crispy on the outside and soft and squishy on the inside. While you're waiting for it to finish "cooking," wash out your Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and place it and the whisk attachment in the freezer until you're ready to whip up the heavy cream. Cut your choice of mixed berries and add a sprinkle of sugar to them to add just a touch more sweetness to the mix. Keep your berries in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the pavlova.
As you get close to serving time, grab the mixing bowl from your freezer and whip up about a cup of heavy cream on high until it is stiff. I don't add sugar or vanilla since the meringue is sweet enough on it's own.
To assemble your pavlova, spread a layer of whipped cream gently over the meringue. I like to leave an edge of the meringue without whipped cream. In the center, add the mixed berries and a few leaves of mint (or basil would be delicious too!) to make it extra colorful and pretty. Serve immediately. Bring the pavlova to the table whole. It will look extra rustic and delicious if you serve it on it's parchment paper and let guest dig into it family style.