Pavlova with berries, brown sugar and sour cream
Nothing beats a good pavlova
A good pavlova is a show-stopper that will have your guests licking their plates and begging for more. Seriously. I had one guest break a two-year dessert fast for my pavlova. Another guest admonished me to never make pavlova again, and then quickly asked me to please make it again tomorrow. This recipe is a slight variation on Maggie Ruggiero's Three-Layer Berry and Brown Sugar Pavlova, published in Gourmet Magazine July 2009. I have changed the quantities a bit and use a free-form method of creating the meringue disks that result in a larger, more rustic cake.
Making a pavlova is not hard, but the meringue takes a little time. The key is proper whipping of the egg whites, starting with room temperature egg whites. There are tricks to separating and whipping egg whites.
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Make your pavlova the same day you serve it
You will want to allow two hours from the time you put the meringue in the oven to the time you serve your pavlova, as the meringue needs to set in the oven for an hour after you turn the oven off. You can make the meringue ahead of time, but it is very fragile and will crumble with time. Some say you can freeze your meringue. While you can freeze your baked meringue, and it will taste great when thawed, it will crumble and won't look very good. For the best presentation make your meringue a few hours before you plan to serve it. Leave it in an opened oven until just before serving and you are ready to assemble the meringue and berries. Don't worry if your pavlova is crumbly and a little "rustic." That is half the fun.
- 1½ cups superfine sugar
- ¾ cups brown sugar
- 2 T + 1 t cornstarch
- 2 T + 1 t vanilla
- 1 T white vinegar
- 9 large eggs, separated
- 2 pounds strawberries, trimmed and quartered
- ½ pound blueberries (2 packages)
- ½ pound blackberries (2 packages)
- 3 T superfine sugar
- 1½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- ½ cup sour cream, chilled
- Heat oven to 275 degrees, placing the racks in the middle of the oven. Cut three rectangles of parchment paper to fit the inside of three heavy-gage cookie sheets. Butter the cookie sheets and place the parchment paper on top of the butter, smoothing the paper so it lies flat and sticks to the cookie sheet.
- In your food processor, fitted with the chopping blade, pulse together the sugars and cornstarch until combined. Because of the different weights of these ingredients they will not combine uniformly.
- Combine vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites with a generous pinch of salt on medium speed until they form soft peaks. Now begin adding sugar 2-3 tablespoons at a time, with your mixer now set on medium high. Mix until sugar is thoroughly combined after each addition of the sugar mixture. After all sugar has been combined, beat another minute. Add vanilla and vinegar to egg whites and increase the speed of your mixer to high. Beat for about 5 minutes until the meringue is stiff and glossy and holds stiff peaks.
- Plop one third of the meringue in the middle of each of the three prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon, smooth the meringue into equal sized disks, about 1.5" high.
- Bake about an hour. Test with your finger to insure meringue has a crisp top. Allow your meringues to set in the oven for an hour after they are done. Turning off the oven and prop open the door with a wooden spoon. Don't fret if meringues crack a bit as they cool.
- While meringue is cooling, toss berries with remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and macerate for about an hour at room temperature.
- Using an electric mixer, beat whip cream to soft peaks. Fold in sour cream and beat again. Refrigerate until ready to assemble pavlova.
- When meringues are cool, remove pans from the oven. Gently lift the first meringue disk and attached parchment off the pan. Carefully peel off parchment and place on oversized serving platter. Spread with one third of the whipped cream and top with one third of the macerated berries and their juices. Remove the second meringue disk from the parchment and place on top of the first meringue/cream/berry layer. Repeat as you did for first layer, for the second and third layers. Serve immediately.