One of my favorite Brave Girl Camp desserts is this….”Pavlova”…..yummmmmmmm…..a fancy word for a DELICIOUS meringue shell filled with sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit.
I know this looks fancy and complicated, but it is NOT. If I can do it, you can do it, and I’ll show you in this video that it really is pretty simple. And there is something really magical that happens when you combine the crispy meringue, whipped cream, and some fresh fruit…it is absolutely scrumptious!!! I’ve used peaches, but you can use any kind of fruit you have around….berries are amazing in this dessert.
SO…be brave!! Try making this for someone you love….
And if you’re a words and pictures kind of Brave Girl, here is the photo tutorial version.
Start by gathering your ingredients. You’ll need:
1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Before you begin, trace 4-inch circles onto a piece of parchment paper that is cut to the size of your baking sheet. 6 circles fit on each of our baking sheets. You’ll want to space them out – leave about 1 inch between the circles so your meringue has enough room to grow a little in the oven.
Next, separate the eggs. It will take about 4 egg whites to get 1/2 a cup, but measure. When we did this, the eggs we used were small, so it took 5. Definitely measure.
The easiest way we’ve found to separate eggs is to crack the egg, then drop it into your fingers. Let the white fall through into a bowl and the yolk will stay intact in your hand. Set the yolks aside to use for something else. (Make sure that not even a teeny trace of yolks gets in with the whites or the whites will not whip…everything has to be free of any kind of oil or fat….trust me on this.)
Next, whip the eggs for just a few seconds, until they’re frothy…like this:
Once the eggs are a little frothy, add all the other ingredients…the vanilla, vinegar, cream of tartar and sugar. Then let the mixer go on high speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture is glossy and stiff. You want to be sure that the sugar is entirely dissolved. When you think it’s done, put a little of the meringue on your fingers and rub it between your finger and thumb. If it feels grainy at all, it’s not done. If it feels smooth, it’s done! It should look like this:
The best way to form the shells…the way it turns out prettiest is to pipe them BUT you don’t have to pipe them (we’ll show you how in a minute). If you’re piping though, you can use a piping bag with a large star tip or a ziplock bag with the end cut off. To fill the bag with the least amount of frustration and mess, put your piping bag into a pitcher and fold it over the edge. Then fill the bag.
Twist the piping bag until the meringue just starts to come out the tip.
You’ll find that the parchment paper might try to slide all over your cooking sheet. The trick we use is to put a dab of meringue as glue on each of the corners. The circles you drew on the parchment paper will be your guides as you pipe. Be sure they are on the bottom side of the parchment paper when you ‘glue’ it down.
Then pipe little nests. Start by making a circle that fits inside of the circles you drew…(it will grow and spread a bit in the oven). Once you have a circle, go around the outside of the circle one more time to form a bowl…like a second story wall on the outside of the circle.
If you don’t have a piping bag or a ziplock, you can form your meringues with a spoon…like this:
If you have leftover meringue in your piping bag, don’t throw it out! Use it to make little meringue kisses…mmmmm…
The meringues will go into a 350 degree (F) oven for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300 degrees (F) and let them bake for 20 minutes.
When they are baked, they will look like this. DON’T take them out of the oven yet. Crack the oven door and let them dry out in the warm oven for 1 -2 hours before you get them out. (You want them to be completely dry and crispy…and that reminds me to tell you that you shouldn’t make these on a humid day…unless you want chewy meringues…hmmmm….come to think of it, that might be good….but I digress…)
While they’re drying out, you can get your toppings together. This time, we used sweetened whipped cream and peaches…we’ve used all kind of fruit. One of our favorites is berries. Oh yum.
Add a dollop of whipped cream and fruit to the meringue…and Voila! Pavlova!
Serve it on a pretty plate to someone you love….this is my little grandson, Jackson. He has a way of making a cook feel pretty good….
Try it and let me know how it turns out!
PS. True confessions: Say the shells are a total flop and they come out all wonky looking…(not that that I would ever admit that it has happened to me….) You can still turn it into a gorgeous dessert. Just crunch up the crispy meringues into big chunks and stir them into the whipped cream. Layer this in a goblet with the fruit…it will be gorgeous and delicious and everyone will think that’s how you planned it all along. (*wink*)