Making Berry Pavlova

by Carol Sacks on September 22, 2014

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I may have arrived fashionably late to the pavlova party, but I’m turning into the guest who wouldn’t leave!

I was bowled over by the elegant dessert when we were on vacation in France a few months ago. We were the guests at a perfect Sunday supper hosted by Pascale Bonnard, a college friend of Matthew’s. After serving us a hearty, seasonal spread, Pascale, brought out her show-stopping dessert.

The meringue base — slightly crunchy on the outside and almost creamy inside — was topped with a juicy mix of berries, billowy drifts of barely-sweetened whipped cream and more berries.

I devoured my portion and immediately eyed The Bug’s plate to see if there might be a bite or two for me. There wasn’t, of course. She was as taken with the confection as I.

Since we returned (and following the installation of our new range!), The Bug and I have made the ethereal dessert a few times. The first go around, the meringue was close, but it didn’t have a tender center. The second time, I tried a different recipe calling for a lower baking temperature, and didn’t bake it long enough. The outside shell looked perfect; the inside, however, was runny. The third time was the charm.


While many of the recipes for preparing the meringue are similar —- same ingredients and virtually the same proportions — the technique varies. This post by Shuna Fish Lydon for Simply Recipes is informative, detailed and was the primer I needed; her recipe is ideal for entertaining a larger group than my crew of three. Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen blog also penned a smart post, references Lydon’s, and her recipe is geared to a smaller group.

My meringue is a variation of Pascale’s, which was developed by Kitchen Aid. It’s also nearly identical to Smitten Kitchen’s. I’ve listed my minor adjustments to that recipe below:

1. I used 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, slightly more than the 1/2 Tablespoon in the recipe, and added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the egg white mixture for richer flavor.

2. I pre-heated the oven at 275 degrees, and turned the oven down to 250 degrees as soon as I put the meringue in the oven.

3. I baked the confection for exactly one hour, checking it at 30 minutes to be sure it wasn’t browning. After one hour, I turned the oven off and left the meringue in the oven for two hours, removing it and carefully placing it on a cake stand. I served the dessert a few hours later.

4. Rather than make a berry sauce, I served the meringue topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. I used 1 cup of heavy cream, adding 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla to the bowl after the cream began to thicken.

5. I used 1 1/2 cups of fresh berries tossed with 1 teaspoon sugar. This amount worked well for Matthew, The Bug and me, but increase the amount if you’re feeding more than 3-4.

Here again are the links to Shuna Fish Lydon’s post on Simply Recipes and Smitten Kitchen’s Mixed Berry Pavlova. The summer may now be behind us, but if berries are available to you, you’ll love this dessert.


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