Where do I start with pavlovas. I’ve probably made more pavlovas than you can imagine. Some successful, some not. And one that ended this way. This classic Australian dessert is a great example of how the simplest things can sometimes be the hardest to perfect. The ingredients are straightforward and few: egg whites and sugar whipped up until glossy and white. It’s baked on a low heat until the outside is a crunchy meringue and the inside is a marshallow-y delight. Easy enough right? Well, not quite, but I’ve included some tips in this recipe to ensure you get perfect pavlovas each time. You can top pavlovas with anything you want, but blackberries and Meyer lemon go so well together!
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups of caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, sifted
- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
- 1 pinch of salt
Blackberry-Meyer lemon topping ingredients:
- 12 ounces of blackberries
- 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 Meyer lemon, zested and 1 tablespoon of its juice
- a small handful of chopped lightly toasted unsalted pistachios
- Don’t make pavlovas if the weather is wet or humid– they’ll never get hard and dry on the outside
- Make sure everything that touches the egg whites is super clean and dry. Any trace of oil will prevent your egg whites from forming hard peaks. I give the bowl of the mixer, the whisk and the bowl I put the egg whites in a wipe down with a paper towel and vinegar or lemon juice.
- Use caster sugar, it dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. If you don’t have any you can make caster sugar by simply running sugar through a food processor until it is a fine texture but not powdered.
- Keep your mixer running the entire time and don’t stop it to add ingredients.
- Don’t open the oven.
- Every oven is different so while this temperature works for me, if your pavlovas start tanning, turn down the heat.
- Finally, be patient, when whipping egg whites follow the instructions and resist the temptation to quickly turn the mixer on high speed. Also, make sure you let the meringues cool to room temperature in the oven.
Start by beating the egg whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed until the whites become bubbly frothy. Add vinegar and salt. Turn to medium speed until soft peaks form. Soft peaks form when the egg whites look like white foam and the whisk starts to form a trail (like the picture below on the left). Turn to medium high speed and slowly add the caster sugar in a little at a time, allowing the sugar to incorporate before each addition. When all sugar is added, turn the speed on high and whip until the egg whites form hard peaks (like the picture below on the right) and the sugar is dissolved, about 3-4 minutes. You can check this by rubbing a bit of the meringue between your fingers– you should not be able to feel any grit. Add the sifted cornstarch and whisk on high speed for a couple more minutes until it is fully incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Spoon large disks of the meringues evenly onto the baking sheet. There should be enough meringue for 6. Bake for 1 hour with the rack positioned in the middle. Turn off the heat and crack the oven open a few inches. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the blackberry sauce, heat 1/3 of the blackberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until syrupy. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. You can also mash with a potato masher for a chunkier sauce.
To make the whip cream, pour a pint of chilled heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk on medium high speed just until medium peaks form. Be careful not to overwhisk!
Carefully remove the meringues off the parchment paper. Lay one meringue on the bottom, spoon whip cream over it and place another meringue over it and dollop more whip cream on top.
Drizzle the blackberry sauce over the pavlovas and top with fresh blackberries.
Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Serve immediately as the whip cream will make the meringue soggy if it sits for too long.
Dig in with a spoon . . .
(images by HonestlyYUM)