Pavlovas, which are comprised of nothing more than egg-white meringues, whipped cream and fresh berries, are some of the lightest, and most attractive, desserts around. Though they look very pinkies-up, they are actually pretty simple to prepare, but you should keep a few things in mind – if you don’t fully separate the yolks from the whites, the meringue won’t whip into peaks. I know this, because I had the smallest bit of yolk in my first batch, and the mixture refused to cooperate. Also, for my fellow Floridians, be wary of humid weather – it has a tendency to make the meringues “fall.” Recipe adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow. —Virginia a la Mode
Combine egg whites, salt, and white vinegar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Combine the 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl and add to the egg whites in thirds, whisking each addition in completely. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon the meringue in 8 big spoonfuls, using a spoon to spread them in a circle, and then make an indent in each, or simply spread the entire meringue into whatever shape you desire – for a more dramatic preparation.
Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 200°F, and bake for another hour. Turn off the heat and cool the meringues in the oven for an hour, propping the door open with a wooden spoon.
Meanwhile, whip the cream together with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a small bowl, crush 1/2 cup of the blueberries with a potato masher or a spoon to release their juice. Fold those and the rest of the blueberries into the cream if you like, or use as a topping over the egg whites and cream. Evenly distribute the cream on the meringues. Top with juicy blueberries (or whichever combination of berries you desire), and serve.