Saturday, July 19, 2014

Easy Pavlova with Summer Berries

What is better than a summer dessert that is full of the season's best berries?

It's when the summer dessert is also so easy you can almost make it in your sleep. 

And what pushes it over the top? 

The fact that it can be just so darn easy and yet also breathtakingly beautiful.

All this and it's gluten-free!

This is my super-simple, make-it-in-your-sleep, recipe. Don't let the procedure scare you. I just documented the steps so you end up with perfection. You won't need them after you've made this once or twice.

Easy Pavlova with Summer Berries 
Serves 6

You could serve this with any soft fruit (sliced kiwis and mangoes come to mind, but I love the jewel-toned berries that top this beauty!) The meringue can be made a day ahead and kept in a sealed container when cooled. I usually make the meringue earlier in the day and throw the dessert together at the last minute. Top tips: Make sure your egg whites have no yolk in them at all and make sure your bowl is impeccably clean to get the most lift out of those egg whites!

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whipping cream
Sugar, to taste
Fresh summer berries

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Separate eggs into whites and yolks, reserving yolks for another use. Fingers make a great egg separator!
3. In a very clean large bowl with electric mixer, or with stand mixer, beat whites on high speed until stiff peaks form (the whites should cling to the beaters and don't move). This should take 2-3 minutes. 
4. Add sugar and continue to beat on high for another 2-3 minutes, or until whites are glossy and sugar is completely incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula. At this point, you should be able to hold the bowl upside down and nothing moves! Beat longer if it doesn't!
5. Add vanilla and beat for another minute. Scrape down sides of bowl again.
6. Using the little bits of meringue clinging to your spatula, wipe spatula onto 4 corners of your baking pan. Then place a piece of parchment paper on top and press down. (This holds the parchment in place while shaping your meringue.)
7. Scrape meringue onto centre of pan and shape into circle (approximately 9" in diameter), swipe around outer edge to create a rim to keep cream in.
8. Place in hot oven and immediately turn down heat to 275 degrees. Bake for 1 hour without opening oven. (Bake for 15 minutes longer for a crisper shell, we like it slightly chewy, thus the 1 hour). Turn off the oven, wedge open the oven door with a wooden spoon and let cool for at least one hour or overnight.
9. In clean bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form (not stiff but holds together). Add sugar to taste. Icing sugar gives smoother results, but either will do. I usually add about a tablespoon or so. Add a touch of vanilla if desired. Reserve in fridge until ready to serve.
10. Just before serving, carefully peel the cooled meringue from the parchment paper and place on serving tray. Spread softly whipped cream into meringue shell and top with assorted berries or fruit. Serve immediately. Dust with icing or confectioners sugar if desired.

And look like a rock star in the kitchen...