My father-in-law is the undisputed king of meringue in the family – I’ve never seen someone whip up a batch so effortlessly. I always get nervous when making meringue – will it be too dry? Too tacky? It’s a crapshoot every time, at least for me. But when I saw these gorgeous organic raspberries at the market, I wanted to do something simple and beautiful with them, and I decided to make this Pavlova.
The Pavlova is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, originated in New Zealand after one of her tours in the area in the mid-1920’s. Typically made with strawberries, this gorgeous dessert is a beautiful centerpiece for afternoon tea or a special dinner. I invited my neighbors to come over and enjoy this luxurious treat with us, since it needs to be eaten right away once it is topped with whipped cream and fruit.
I won’t be de-throning my FIL anytime soon with my meringue prowess, but this was a step in the right direction for getting over my fear of failure. Perhaps it’s the size of the meringue, but I feel like this is easier to monitor than the tiny meringue kisses I’d attempted before. Despite its fancy, fussy appearance, it’s only got a few ingredients and steps, and is pretty foolproof if you follow the recipe exactly. Feel free to omit the chocolate, or play around with the toppings as the season requires.
4 large egg whites
scant cup (125 grams) confectioners sugar
scant cup (125 grams) granulated sugar
1 t. cornstarch
1 teaspoon (5 ml) white vinegar
2 ounces (55 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) heavy cream, well-chilled
4 cups mixed fresh raspberries
1 ounce (30 grams) sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 215 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (I set a Pyrex bowl on top of a pot of boiling water). Set aside to cool.
Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites into soft peaks with a pinch of salt. Add the granulated sugar (without stopping the whisk) to the egg whites, continuing to beat for about five minutes, then add the cornstarch, vinegar, and confectioners sugar and beat for 30 more seconds. Using a spatula, add the melted chocolate to the egg whites and gently mix, allowing the chocolate to create swirls through the white. Transfer the meringue to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on the firmness you want).
Remove from oven and let cool. Right before serving, toast the almonds in a nonstick pan. In a separate bowl, beat the chilled cream until you achieve whipped cream – no sugar required, as the meringue is very sweet – then top the meringue with cream, berries, and a shower of almonds.