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
- Makes one 13 x 18 inch (baking sheet-sized) pavlova
- Meringue Shell
egg whites, at room temperature
cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups
vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 1/4 pounds
cherries, pitted and halved
zest of 1 lemon, plus more for garnish
- 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.