Pavlovas have always been a favorite of mine. The light and crisp shell with cream and fruit is just so good. This is very simple and inexpensive, too. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t sweat trying to get a perfect circle (mine turned out more like an oblong). If you can beat egg whites, whip cream and open a jar of preserves, you will look like a dessert rock star!
egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups
12 ounce jar cherry preserves
cherry or raspberry liqueur (optional)
For the meringue shell:
Clean a large metal bowl and electric mixer beaters thoroughly-I usually wash and then rinse with kosher salt, vinegar and then clear water to make sure everything is really clean. Any fat in the mix and your egg whites won’t beat. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray liberally with cooking spray.
Beat the egg whites and salt, starting on low and then advancing to high speed, until soft peaks form. Start adding the sugar/cornstarch mix in one Tablespoon full at a time. Add in the vanilla and vinegar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Spread the egg white mixture (meringue) in a circle (oh, about 8 or 9 inches in diameter) on the parchment paper. Make the edges a bit higher than the center so you have a slight well to place the cream and preserves in later.
Place in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 250 degrees F. Bake on the center rack for one hour. Turn off the oven and crack open the oven door and let the meringue sit in the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Slide an offset spatula or large knife between the parchment and the meringue. Be careful, here-it is delicate. Place the meringue shell on a serving dish while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Heat the preserves in a saucepan on very low heat until just melted. You don’t want them hot, but you don’t want them to be a big blog, either. Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur, if using.
With a clean bowl and beaters, whip the cream and sour cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Assembly: Now, to assemble (just before serving or you will lose some of the crunch from the meringue shell): Put a big dollop of the whipped cream in the center of the meringue and then a layer of preserves. Repeat. You can leave as is or make it fancy by swirling a knife up through the cream and preserves to give it a marbled look.