Recipe contributed by Elizabeth Schwartz; photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 22 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Light, airy, and sweet, this vanilla-infused Pavlova is a New Zealand classic.
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided (see Kitchen Tip)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups heavy cream
2 cups assorted mixed berries (if you want, go full-on Kiwi and add peeled, sliced kiwis)
- Preheat the oven to 275°F. Trace an 8-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the parchment upside down and place it on a baking sheet.
- Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (see Kitchen Tip), add room-temperature egg whites, and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until it reaches the soft peak stage (see Notes from the Test Kitchen). Add 1 cup of the superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until the sugar is fully incorporated and the whites reach the stiff peak stage (see Notes from the Test Kitchen), scraping down bowl often. Check to see if the sugar is incorporated into whites by rubbing the meringue between your index finger and thumb. If the mixture feels gritty, continue to beat for 10 to 14 minutes, until it feels smooth.
- Sift in the cornstarch and sprinkle the vinegar over the whites, then fold gently to fully incorporate. Mazel tov—that was the hard part!
- Tack down the parchment paper on the baking sheet by smearing a bit of meringue on the underside of the parchment, using a dab on all four corners.
- Mound the meringue in the center of the 8-inch circle. Using a small off-set spatula, evenly spread meringue out toward the edge of the circle. You want a slight, gentle bowl shape, so leave the sides built up a bit with a well in the center. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven, bake for about 45 minutes and rotate the baking sheet 180° to ensure even baking. Bake for 45 minutes longer, until it is a pale (or pinkish) cream color and you can see cracks.
- Turn off the oven, leave the door cracked and allow the meringue to cool completely.
- To serve: Whip the cream with the vanilla extract and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Mound in the center and on top of the Pavlova and top with fruit.
- Superfine, or caster, sugar is essential to this recipe. If you use granulated sugar, the Pavlova will be gritty. If you can’t find superfine sugar, process the granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade for a minute or two.
- Your mixing bowl must be clean and dry, with no trace of grease, or your egg whites won’t whip up enough. You want maximum volume (like my hair frizz on a humid summer’s day in Sydney). Separate the eggs while they are cold, then allow the whites to come to room temperature.
Notes from the Test Kitchen:
- Egg whites at the soft peak stage will be glossy and foamy, retain their basic shape but will droop a bit, and won’t entirely cling to the bowl. Egg whites at the stiff peak stage will be glossy and very firm, will retain their shape and cling to the bowl. They will stand straight up from the overturned beater. Yet they will still be creamy and flexible enough to fold in with other ingredients.