Warning: this dessert will make you completely lose control. You will take one bite, then another, then another, and before you know it you will have eaten two of the enticing little flirts. Not that that happened to me. Nope.
Pavlova, a dessert that originated in New Zealand or Australia (but is loved the world over) and named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, consists of a crisp-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the-inside vanilla meringue nest that embraces billowy whipped cream. Sometimes, it features layers of tart citrus curd and whipped cream. The whole darn thing is often topped off with juicy, ripe fruit.
Here, I’ve made these light-as-a-feather, pillowy meringues into individual desserts, but you can make one large one if you like. The whipped cream adds a lovely contrast of texture. And the sweet summer berries and nectarines, delicately scented with vanilla bean seeds, give it flavorful freshness.
You can use just about any fruit for these, just be sure it’s of the season, fragrant, and perfectly ripe. These do not hold well so once you put them together you’ll want to serve them right away.
Take note! These are gluten-free!
Recipe: Crispy-Chewy Vanilla Pavlovas with Whipped Cream and Vanilla-Scented Nectarines and Berries
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Fruit and whipped cream
- 2 ripe nectarines or peeled peaches, halved, seeded, and cut into thin slices
- 12 oz fresh berries, such as raspberries or blackberries, halved if very large
- 4 tbsp superfine sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 325F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until they start to get foamy. Slowly add the 1 cup sugar, beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Sift the cornstarch over the mixture and add the vanilla and vinegar. Beat just until incorporated. Do not overbeat.
- Spoon 6 to 8 dollops of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, dividing the mixture evenly and spacing them at least 1 or 2 inches apart. If you want to make 1 large meringue, spoon the entire mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Use the back of the spoon to create an indentation in the center of each mound.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250F. Bake until crisp, about 1 hour for the individual meringues, or 1 1/2 hours for the large meringue. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven to cool completely, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- In a bowl, add the nectarine slices and berries. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp sugar. Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the back of the knife, scrape out the seeds and add to the bowl of fruit. Toss until well combined. Let sit for about 30 minutes to macerate.
- In a bowl, beat the cream, 2 tbsp sugar, and vanilla extract until medium-soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
- To serve, divide the individual meringues among dessert plates (or place the large one on a serving platter). Divide the whipped cream amongst them, then top with spoonfuls of the fruit with juices. Serve right away.