I wanted to make a meringue-based “pie” for a crowd. At first, I wasn’t sure: was it a slab pie? Was it a pavlova? Clearly, it was a slablova and it was a perfect summer party dessert. I finished mine with a tart cream topping and plenty of fresh cherries – but you could use absolutely any fruit and it would be perfect. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
one 13 x 18 inch (baking sheet-sized) pavlova
Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Clean the bowl and whip of an electric mixer or a large glass bowl and the beaters of a hand mixer with white vinegar and wipe dry.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the prepared bowl and whip on low speed until foamy, 1-2 minutes.
Raise the speed to medium, and begin to add the sugar gradually, whipping to stiff peaks. With such a large amount of egg whites this may take longer than you think, 8-10 minutes. Do not overwhip – the egg whites should look soft and smooth, not clumpy or dry.
Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheet, and spread in an even layer – almost to the edges of the pan on all sides. It’s ok to have peaks and valleys in the meringue – this will give it good texture later.
Transfer the pan to the oven, and reduce the temperature to 225ºF. Bake until the meringue is firm and set, about 2 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely (and continue drying), another 3-4 hours.
I like to serve this right on the baking sheet – plop a spoon in the middle and let people go to town. If you want to put it on a platter, it’s best to transfer it before you top it. Be careful – it’s easy for the meringue to crack at this size. It’s best to leave it on the parchment paper to serve.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream, sour cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean to soft peaks. In a medium bowl, toss the cherries, sugar, and lemon zest to combine.
Add the topping just before serving. Spread the cream mixture evenly over the pavlova, and top with the cherry mixture. Garnish with more lemon zest, if using, and serve immediately.
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.