Thursday, December 28, 2017

ChezCindy: Pavlova Meringue Cake with Cherries and Berries

This impressive looking dessert is so easy to make, you could turn this into a family activity for a party or a fun Friday night, even involving the young children to help.  You will need 2 hours to make the cake, but most of the time is inactive with the cake baking in a low oven.  During those 2 hours you can eat dinner, play games or watch a movie.  When you are ready for dessert, simply add the whipped cream and fresh fruit and eat at once.  

A Pavlova cake is named in honor of a Russian ballerina, with the billowing meringue meant to resemble the tutu skirt worn by a ballerina.  The meringue is so pretty it also reminds me of fresh fallen snow.  The meringue cake is slightly crisp on the surface, soft and marshmallowy on the inside.  Dolloped with whipped cream and fresh fruit for a yummy satisfying sweet treat.  You can use other fruit choices, such as strawberries or blackberries and blueberries.  Once the cake is assembled, it is meant to be eaten right away.  It will not store overnight.  So plan on serving this to a large group.  

Pavlova Meringue Cake
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Fruit Topping
Whipped Cream

Powdered sugar for dusting

To make the meringue cake:  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.  Draw an 8-inch circle on the parchment, turn over the parchment so that the circle faces down on the baking sheet.

Working with the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until foamy.  Gradually add in the sugar, beating on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes until firm glossy peaks form.  Whisk in the vinegar, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Remove the bowl from the stand and sift the cornstarch over the whipped egg whites, gently folding it in.

Using a large spoon, scoop out the meringue into the center of the circle onto the prepared baking sheet.  Spread out in swirling fashion, keeping it within the circle.

Place the sheet pan into the oven, immediately lowering the heat to 225 degrees.  Bake for 60 minutes.  The meringue should be crisp on the surface, with the center being just bit a bit softer.  Turn off the oven, prop open the door just a few inches, leaving the meringue in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.  The meringue cake can be left at room temperature for a few hours before assembling into the Pavlova.  

Fruit Topping
8 ounces sweet cherries, pitted
6 ounces raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon cold water

Combine the fruit and sugar into a small bowl.  After 30-45 minutes, the juices will have run out from the fruit, creating a fruit and juice mixture.  Drain the juices into a small sauce pan, keeping the fruit in the bowl.  In a separate small bowl, combine the corn starch and cold water to make a slurry.  Place the pan with the juice over a low flame on the stove top.  Stir in the slurry a teaspoon at a time to thicken the juice, adding only enough slurry until the juice is slightly thickened.  

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Using a hand held mixer or a stand mixer, add the cream to a large bowl.  Begin beating the cream, adding in the sugar.  Beat until soft peaks form.  

To assemble the Pavlova:  Place the meringue cake onto a serving plate.  Spoon the whipped cream into the center of the meringue, swirling decoratively.  Using a slotted spoon, arrange the fruit over the whipped cream.  Drizzle the fruit with the thickened fruit juice.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.  

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