I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to make in my kitchen is the meringue. There are two main factors why that is. First is that I can never get the egg whites to the right stiffness, which is possibly a function of the efficiency of my hand mixer. Second, and probably the more important factor, is humidity. Because the concept of baking a meringue is to dry the whites out, humidity can be a big issue. I will try to address them both with this recipe.
When I finally got my new stand mixer set up, I knew that the first thing I wanted to make was meringue. Because my new mixer is incredibly efficient and powerful, I knew I’d finally get my egg whites to the “stiff peaks” stage. But I didn’t want to make just meringue. Luckily, when I went grocery shopping, something in the produce section inspired me–fresh raspberries. So I decided to make Pavlova.
A Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert characterized by a crunchy coating on the meringue, with a soft chewy center. It is topped with whipped cream and fruits.
The following recipe is my take on it. It will not be exact to the original, but it does work.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 cups fresh raspberries (can be substituted with other fruits)
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F). On a piece of parchment paper, trace a 9-inch circle which will be a guide for the meringue. Lay out the paper on a cookie sheet. Another option is to use a silicon mat and just wing it. 🙂
With a spatula, spread out the meringue in a thick layer over the parchment paper using the traced circle as a guide. If you’re not using a guide like me, make sure that the meringue is spread in a layer not thinner than an inch and a half (1-1/2 in). Place the cookie sheet containing the meringue in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) right after putting the meringue in. Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the meringue develops a light brown shell which will crack as it expands during the baking process. Let the meringue cool in the oven for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.Handy tip: If you are baking in a humid environment, after baking for 30 minutes, crack open the oven door a little. Baking that way will help dry out the meringue because it allows the moisture to escape the oven, instead of getting trapped inside and keeping the shell moist.
While baking the meringue, combine 1 cup of heavy cream and the grated lemon zest in the mixer bowl. Whip up the cream at the highest mixer setting until the stiff peak stage. Chill.
When the meringue is completely cool, spread the whipped cream on top. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Then put the fresh berries all over the cream. Drizzle the top with some honey to finish. Serve immediately as the meringue may soften from the moisture in the cream.
So that’s the recipe. Isn’t it incredibly easy to make? By the way, you will notice that I didn’t add any sugar with the cream. That’s because the sweetness of the meringue will be enough, while the lemon zest will complement that sweetness quite well. Try experimenting with this recipe using a variety of fruits and even nuts. Enjoy! 🙂