Three-Layer Berry and Brown Sugar Pavlova, taken from Gourmet magazine
This looks difficult to make, but it’s really very fun and well worth the effort. If you follow the instructions, it’s really quite simple!
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- 1 cup superfine granulated sugar (if you don’t bake often enough to have this sitting in your pantry, just put the same amount of regular granulated sugar in your blender or food processor and pulse a short time until it looks like it’s changed texture)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 cup egg whites (about 5 or 6 large eggs) at room temperature
- 1 1/2 lb strawberries, trimmed and quartered
- 1 lb blackberries (I used blueberries from our local farmers’ market- thanks Nathan!)
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/3 cup chilled sour cream
Make Meringue: Preheat oven to 275 degrees F with rack in middle. Lightly butter 3 (8 inch) round cake pans, then dust sides of pans with confectioners sugar, knocking out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment paper, like me, you can try dusting the entire pan, but you have to fight to get the meringues out. Or you can use wax paper- I don’t think the oven temperature is high enough to burn the wax paper, just turn the waxy side down).
- Pulse superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined. In some recipes, you can skip this step. I would NOT omit this step here. You don’t want any lumps in your meringues.
- Stir together vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 Tbsp at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (I did this with a hand mixer, and it worked). If you live in a humid climate, you may have to beat longer. Much longer. Spoon meringues into pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and smooth tops.
- Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour. While you are baking, do not open the oven! This could cause cracking and falling before it’s time.
- Play Yahtzee while you wait.
- Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringues in oven 1 hour (Meringues may sink slightly and crack while cooling). While they cool, macerate the fruit (see below).
- Run knife along sides of cake pans and carefully turn meringues out of pans. You may have to saw. Carefully peel off parchment. Meringues will be fragile and will probably crack. This is messy! Just eat the crumbs.
- Carfeully turn right side up.
Macerate Fruit While Meringues Cool: Toss berries with sugar and let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour).
Assemble Dessert: Beat heavy cream with sour cream using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks. Put 1 meringues on a serving plate and spread one third of whipped cream over it. Spoon one third of fruit (with juice) over top. Repeat with remaining meringues, cream, and fruit.
Prepare yourself for a really rich dessert. Serve with coffee, or (we thought, we haven’t tried) a dry champagne. Get ready for the post-dessert sugar coma!