I’d never made a pavlova before, but we had a lot of eggs in the fridge and I thought, Why not? Also, I’m trying to cut back the calories a little, so I thought meringue and fruit would be a good choice for a light and tasty treat. And maybe, the way I made it, it isn’t technically a pavlova–I cut out the whipped cream and the berries are raw–but I think this is a dessert more likely consumed by a ballerina, anyway. (Anna Pavlova–you know.)
The recipe is simple, though it requires just a little technical know-how. First, you make the meringue shell, the recipe for which I’m paraphrasing from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle, which is one of my most-used and most-loved cookbooks (and that’s saying something.)
For the meringue, you need:
Five large egg whites, at room temperature
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Preheat your oven to 225F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon, then increase the speed to high and whisk until you get stiff peaks, like so:
You can also check if the meringue is ready by holding it over your head. If it doesn’t fall out, you’re good to go! If it does, well–I guess you have to make a new meringue.
Now take a big piece of parchment paper and, using a cake pan as a guide, draw a 9-inch circle with a pencil. Turn the paper over (so you don’t get graphite in your food) and place it on a baking tray.
Put your meringue in a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. Since I’m a little clumsy, I often prop the bag up in a drinking glass to get the goods inside without slopping it all over my hands or dropping anything. This especially helps when my daughter insists on being held while I’m baking, which she does regularly.
Now, starting at the outer edge of the circle, pipe a disk of meringue.
Build up the edges by piping rosettes around the outer rim, then another layer of rosettes on top of that, staggering them so each rosette in the second layer sits between two rosettes on the first.
You want it to be fairly tall so it can hold lots of filling.
Now bake it in your preheated oven for an hour, until the meringue is dry but preferably has no color. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue in there for at least two hours. (If you take meringue from the hot oven to the cool room, it will crack. By leaving it in the oven you’re giving it time to adjust to the dropping temperature, and also gradually cooking it a little more.)
Once you’ve got the meringue made, you can move on to the filling. It’s really complicated. Ready?
About 2 cups fresh, ripe blackberries
About 2 tablespoons honey
When the meringue is cool, pile the blackberries in the center. Drizzle berries and meringue lightly with honey.
So fresh. So light. So tart. So sweet. The crisp meringue outside with the marshmallowy inside, the bursting berries, the sticky honey. I did a little dance when I ate it. Yum yum yum yum yum.
Did I say yum?