Heavenly Pavlova

For those of you who celebrated Easter last Sunday, here's hoping it was a joyous day. In our family, we celebrated "The Feast of the Birth of Christine", aka my sister-in-law's birthday. Christine is a snarky little thing who likes to remind us all she's the youngest of our bunch (sadly, this makes the rest of us quite old grown up) and seems to love her two golden retriever puppies more than she loves us (they are pretty freaking cute, though). She is also a generous, caring, sharp, beautiful and wise person who deserves all the deliciousness she can get.

Her favorite dessert has become Pavlova, a light-but-creamy meringue-based tart covered in whipped cream and, in this case, sweet spring berries, named after prima ballerina Anna Pavlova because it floats in your mouth before melting there. The sensation is remarkable. Now, this dessert is normally made for Christine by her good friend Tom O'Connell, an incredible home chef, but as our family was spending her birthday together, I thought I'd have a go at it. My hat's off to Chef Tom because this treat is not for the faint of heart but the result is truly heavenly.

This recipe is pretty much stolen from based largely on the recipe for Mixed Berry Pavlova in Culinary Goddess Ina' Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home Cook Book although I adjusted the baking time and temperature and a few other tiny details. Mrs. Garten calls this recipe "easy" although I might use the term "labor-intensive leap of faith". There is lots of whipping, baking, cooling, sauce-making, washing, chopping and waiting involved and one cannot control the outcome by toothpick-testing, temperature-taking nor touching. You just have to have faith that once you've followed the directions it'll come out correctly. Then you serve it, lump in throat, hoping the center is not overcooked, or worse, frothy. Amazingly, it is crunchy, chewy, light, sweet, tender and serenely unique - just like a certain someone we were celebrating!

Let me assure you the result is worth every second of effort. Pavlova is unlike anything else and will wow your crowd.

Happy Birthday, Christine!



Based on Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home Cook Book
4 egg whites
pinch of sea salt
1 C sugar
2 t cornstarch
1 t white vinegar
1/2 vanilla

Whipped Cream
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 t vanilla

Mixed Berries
1/2 pint strawberries,  washed and sliced
1/2 pint raspberries, washed and dried on paper towels
1/2 pint blueberries, washed and dried on paper towels
2 T sugar

Raspberry Sauce
1/2 pint raspberries, washed
2 T sugar
1 C seedless raspberry jam

Yield, 6-8 servings

Make the Pavlova.

Preheat the oven to 200. Place a sheet of parchment paper (not waxed paper) on a baking sheet, draw a 9" circle and flip the paper over so that you can see the circle but it won't stain your meringue.

Whip the egg whites and pinch of salt until frothy and firm, about one minute. With the mixer running on high, slowly pour the sugar in and beat until it makes shiny peaks, about 2 minutes more.

Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla and fold lightly with a rubber spatula until incorporated. Pour the meringue onto your parchment and gently spread it into the circle print.

Bake for 90 minutes at 200 and then turn off the oven. Do not open the oven door. Leave the meringue in the oven another hour, then take it out and let it sit on the counter until you're ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make the cream. Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla on high until soft peaks form, 3-5 minutes. Do not overwhip. If you do, add a bit more cream and whip lightly until you see those soft peaks.

Prep your berries. Place the washed, dried and cut up berries into a bowl and sprinkle the sugar on top. Stir gently, cover and place into the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Make the raspberry sauce. Place the raspberries, sugar and 2-3 T water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Place the jam in the hot liquid and whisk until smooth. Set aside but do not refrigerate until the cake is served.

Once cooled peel the parchment from the meringue and place the meringue onto your serving dish. Spread the whipped cream over top, then the berries and, lastly, drizzle about 1/2 cup of your raspberry sauce onto the cake. Serve immediately.

Firm, frothy egg whites.

Shiny peaks. These have the sugar in them.

Freshly baked.

The whole enchilada.

Side view so you can see all the elements together. It's truly unique and scrumptious.

1 comment

  1. I just noticed you mention Tom .That's so sweet !!!


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