Recently, my daughter, Cilia, and I binge-watched Samin Nostrat's Netflix series, "Salt Fat Acid Heat." If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. While watching the "Acid" episode, Mexican chef, Regina Escalante Bush, introduced us to Pavlova.
Pavlova is a merengue-based dessert. The outer crust of the meringue is crisp and chewy while the center is soft, marshmallowy, almost custard-like.
Regina pours a thickened cream over the meringue and adds slices of citrus fruits. She grates some Mexican chocolate on top and drizzled a little honey.
"Can you make that for my birthday, Mom," Cilia said.
"I can try," I said.
I made a slightly different version, making one large meringue cake instead of individual meringue cookies. I whipped heavy cream and lightly sweetened it with powdered sugar. I used blackberries and raspberries as my acid (which worked like magic to cut through the sweetness).
I mean it when I say it's the easiest and most unique cake I've ever made, and that's fitting for a year when, because of COVID-19, we had to celebrate my daughter's birthday in a unique way - virtually.
I propped my computer to face the birthday girl. We sent a Zoom invite to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. The lag-time made our chorus of Happy Birthday sound more like a tortuous take on singing in the round, but we laughed and sang, and the people shut up in my house with me ate Pavlova.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp pure vaniilla extract divided
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2-4 TBSP powdered sugar
- 1 pint black berries
- 1 pint raspberries
- Preheat oven to 300° F.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 9-inch circle on the paper. (I used the bottom of a cake pan as my stencil.)
- In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (Make sure no yolk is present.)With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar a little at a time. Once the mixture becomes thick and shiny, shut off the mixer. Gently fold in the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch.
- Gently spoon the meringue in the center of the circle, working outward until the meringue covers the entire circle. Bake for 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
- In the meantime, in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk 1 quart of heavy cream, 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat. Taste for sweetness and add more powdered sugar if desired. Beat until cream is stiff enough to frost the top of the cake.
- Once the meringue is completely cooled, spread the whipped cream on top and add the berries.