Monday, December 13, 2010

Mini Pavlova with Fresh Berry Salad

At my school, we are celebrating various "Australia Days" as a part of the cultural learning experience for the students. One of the many kind things our mothers have done for the staff is bring Pavlovas for the entire staff. Pavlovas are the national dessert of Australia. It is a meringue shell filled with whipped cream and then topped with a fresh berry salad.

When we had these, I knew I had to go home and make some that night. I made these in individual formed cups, just like our lovely mothers made for us. They are a truly light, airy, and elegant dessert that would be a beautiful and unique addition to your holiday dessert table. Not only are these impressive, but they are surprisingly simply to put together.

Mini Pavlova with Fresh Berry Salad

6 egg whites (I used extra large eggs)
1/8 tsp of salt
1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 cups heavy cream, whipped and sweetened with 2 tablespoons sugar (or go ahead and be a cheater, get fresh whipped cream from a can!)

Fresh berries - I used:
blueberries, rinsed
raspberries, rinsed
strawberries, rinsed, cored, and sliced

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks are reached, about 5 minutes. Add salt and then the cup of sugar gradually, in tablespoon increments, while continuing to whip, until a very stiff meringue is obtained. Fold in cornstarch, then fold in the vinegar.

Spoon meringue into 5-inch round circles. Use the back of a spoon to spread the meringue evenly and flatten the center, making a hollow to hold the cream and berries.

OR fill a piping bag fitted with a large tip (I used #6) with the meringue and pipe into small cup shapes (make a solid base and then pipe in a circle going up to make the cups).

Bake for one hour or until lightly brown and quite firm. Turn oven off and leave meringues inside with door closed, for one more hour. Remove and set in a dry area to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare berry salad by mixing all berries together. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and toss. Chill until ready to serve.

To finish, carefully set meringues on individual dessert plates. Top each one with whipped cream and berries.


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