Individual Pavlovas with Berries
Aside from being the Australian national dessert, a Pavlova also happens to be very low in fat—depending on how much whipped cream you use when serving it. It is usually made as a 9- or 10-inch-diameter cake, but individual Pavlovas are also popular in Australia. A few years ago, I had an excellent one topped with sliced bananas and passion fruit pulp at Geoff Lindsay’s Pearl Restaurant in Melbourne. An individual “Pov,” as it’s referred to Down Under, is the perfect dessert for a dinner party. You can have all the elements ready in advance (bake the meringue bases the day before), so all you need to do is assemble them, not much work at all, right before you serve them.
EQUIPMENT: 2 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans lined with parchment or foil
STORAGE: You may keep the meringue bases right on the pan at room temperature for up to a day or so before serving. Just cover loosely with plastic wrap or slide the pan into a large plastic bag. Don’t worry if the meringues soften slightly; they’re not meant to be dry.
Makes8 individual servings
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and TextureCrisp, Fruity, Light, Sweet
Type of DishDessert
- 4 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or strained lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled, halved, and sliced
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- One ½-pint basket fresh raspberries, picked over but not washed
- 1 cup blueberries, rinsed, picked over, and drained
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Draw four 3- to 3½-inch-diameter circles, well apart from each other, on the paper on each pan. Turn the paper over so that the pencil lead or ink doesn’t touch the meringue when it’s placed there.
To make the meringue bases, combine the egg whites, salt, and vinegar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip the whites with the whisk attachment on medium speed until they are white, opaque, and just beginning to hold their shape. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip in ¾ cup of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, waiting at least 20 seconds between additions. After the sugar has been added whip in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, stir the last ¼ cup sugar with the cornstarch and use a large rubber spatula to fold it into the meringue.
Divide the meringue equally among the circles on the pans, then use a small metal spatula or a wide-bladed table knife to smooth and shape each one into a disk shape about 1½ inches thick. The easiest way to do this is to spread the top flat first, then position the spatula perpendicular to the pan and smooth the sides.
Bake the meringue bases for about 15 minutes, then switch the bottom pan to the top rack and vice versa, turning each pan back to front at the same time. Bake for another 30 minutes or so, or until the meringues are lightly colored and still moist within. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar (or place a wide spatula between the oven and the oven door frame), and let the meringues cool for an hour. Don’t worry if they crack a little.
After the meringues have cooled, put them all on one of the pans, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel, and reserve at room temperature until you are ready to assemble the dessert.
For the berry topping, stir together the strawberries and the sugar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Just before serving, fold in the raspberries and blueberries.
For the whipped cream, combine all the ingredients and whip by hand or by machine until soft peaks form. In warm weather, put the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and put the bowl and whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes before you whip the cream.
To assemble, place the meringue bases on dessert plates. Rewhip the cream by hand if you prepared it in advance and refrigerated it, and if it has thinned out. With half the cream, place a spoonful on the top of each meringue base and spread it smooth. Drain the berry mixture and save the juices. Divide the berry mixture evenly among the meringue bases, placing it on the cream. Put a dollop of the remaining cream next to each Pavlova on the plate and drizzle a spoonful of the reserved juices around the outside on each plate.
SERVING: See step 9. It’s easiest to use both a fork and spoon to eat these desserts. Hold the meringue base in place with the fork while cutting through it with the spoon, which will prevent the meringue from flying off the plate when you cut into it.
2006 Nick Malgieri and David Joachim