This recipe really shouldn’t count as lazybum, as it’s a little bit more complex than my usual preference… but it’s also much easier to make than you’d expect a fancy meringue dessert to be, so that counts in its favor.
Pavlova is my very favorite dessert ever. It’s a giant meringue: a crisp and crunchy meringue shell on the outside, and a soft and marshmallow-textured meringue interior. It’s usually topped with whipped cream and whatever snazzy fruits are in season. As an added bonus, it’s naturally gluten-free, so it tastes exactly as sublime as it should.
If your meringue cake cracks during (or after) baking, never fear! That’s what the whipped cream and fruit are for. They will cover it up perfectly, and none shall ever be the wiser.
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen; when I first made pavlova, years ago, I upped the proportions for no sensible reason that I can recall—pavlova voracity? perhaps an excess of eggs on hand?—and I have made it that way every since. The instructions come from Smitten Kitchen too, with alterations based on my experience, errors, and equipment.)
Meringue Cake Ingredients:
- 6 egg whites
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 cups castor sugar or superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 tablespoon cornstarch
- parchment paper
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 cups sweet fruit of choice (blackberries, strawberries, or peaches work exceptionally well)
- Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
- Using an electric hand mixer, whip egg whites and salt. Start on low, then increase to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform (roughly 3-5 minutes with the hand mixer). [If you have a heavy-duty mixer, consult Smitten Kitchen for more apt instructions.]
- Increase speed to medium-high, and slowly and gradually sprinkle in the sugar and cornstarch. A few minutes later, pour in the vanilla and vinegar.
- Increase speed to high; whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted (4-7 minutes, although your mileage may vary).
- Gently pour the meringue onto the parchment paper in a circular blob. Smooth its edges and top with a spatula, form a small well in the meringue-center.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes (or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color).
- While meringue is baking, prepare the whipped cream and fruit. Whip the cream in a clean bowl. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating until the cream is firm. Wash and slice the fruit into small pieces, as necessary, and put both cream and fruit aside.
- Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. After ~1:15, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
- Once the meringue is cool, gingerly move it from the parchment paper onto a large plate or platter. Spread the whipped cream generously all over it, and then elegantly arrange the fruit atop that. Serve! (It will last a few days in the fridge, covered, although it begins to soften slightly as soon as the whipped cream is added.)