Who still needs a 4th of July dessert? Or an anytime berries are in season dessert? I got you covered.
I’ve made a classic pavlova. An Italian meringue cake topped with whipped cream and macerated berries. So simple, but so good. The outside of this cake is crisp, while the inside is soft and marshmallow-like. I just love that texture contrast. The fluffy whipped cream adds richness, and the berries add that perfect fruity, acidic note to the pavlova. This dessert is so light, it’s just perfect for the summer. We also have the red, white and blue theme going on if you need something impressive for your July 4th get together tomorrow.
Now I have to honest. Despite the fact that I made meringue cookies many times, I had a tough time getting the bake and cook time on this cake just right. I think the oven you use can really affect your result, so even if you follow my instructions, you might have to make adjustments based on your oven.
At one point I tried to bake this at 250°F rather than 300°F and it took 4 hours to get a good crust! Yes 4 hours! That’s twice as long as it should take. I have to say though, I did enjoy the thicker crust as a result. It’s tough to say how much crust to marshmallow center I really prefer. This particular recipe created a 1/4 inch thick crust. Another option is to start baking at 300°F, then turn it down to 200-250°F, and bake it for a longer period of time. This way you can establish a nice crust, but then dry it out more in the center, if that’s what you prefer.
After you pile on the whipped cream and berries on this pavlova, I think some powdered sugar is a nice finishing touch. Doesn’t that look good?!
- 5 large egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 4 cups mixed berries, halved or quartered, if large
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar, or to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and trace a circle using a 9 inch round cake pan.
- Add egg whites to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat over medium speed until frothy. Mix in cream of tartar and salt, and continue to beat.
- When the egg whites begin to go from frothy to white, start gradually adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. After all of the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Add in vanilla. The mixture is ready when the egg whites hold their shape, and feel smooth to the touch, rather than gritty from undissolved sugar. Sift in cornstarch and fold to incorporate.
- Transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to form a cake shape, using the circle outline as a guide. A small, offset spatula can be used to refine the shape. Form the sides about 1 inch higher than the center to allow room for the whipped cream and berries to sit.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the pavlova is dry on the outside and makes a hollow sound when tapped. If desired, you may reduce the oven temperature to 250°F after 30 minutes and bake the pavlova for an additional hour or to desired doneness, in order to create a thicker crunchy exterior layer. When done, shut off the oven and prop the door ajar. Allow to cool completely in the oven.
- One hour before serving, macerate the berries. In a large bowl, combine berries, sugar, lemon and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the whipped cream, add the heavy cream to the chilled bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds, or until somewhat thickened. Add the sugar and salt. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 1 more minute.
- To serve, spread the whipped cream over the pavlova. Top with berries. Slice and enjoy.