Pavlova with Berries and Whipped Cream

I have a confession to make.

This is my completion of June’s Daring Baker’s Challenge, however, I changed it so much that I didn’t think I could technically count this as an entry. The actual challenge was for Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. It sounds amazing and I’m sure I would have loved it. But the standard pavlova with whipped cream and berries has been on my to-do list for so long now and I just couldn’t see myself passing that up for a fancier chocolate variation.

So I broke the rules.

Smoothing out pavlovas

 

Baked pavlovas

Let me back up a moment and explain what pavlova is, because I didn’t even know exactly what it was until a few days ago. Pavlova is a cake made out of baked meringue, whipped cream, and fruit. If you’ve ever eaten a meringue cookie, just imagine adding the whipped cream and fruit and there you go. Easy as pie. Well, actually, so much easier than pie. Who came up with that expression, anyway?

This dessert is easy to make, so don’t be intimidated by the name. It starts with whipping your egg whites with some sugar, then baking it for a few hours in a low temperature oven. It comes out with a crisp shell and a soft and chewy center. You can bake it into an 8 or 9 inch round so that it looks like a cake (don’t worry when it cracks and sinks some after baking, that’s part of the charm), or you can make little individual pavlova cakes like I did here. Either way is delicious.

And I swear I didn’t plan this, but look at how nicely this dessert would fit into your Fourth of July celebrations. It doesn’t get more red, white, and blue than this. And it would be a nice sweet ending to a barbecue of burgers and potato salad. Or ribs and coleslaw. Or barbecue chicken and corn on the cob.

Can you tell I’m excited about my Independence Day food festivities?

Berry Pavlova
Inspired by the June 2010 Daring Baker’s Challenge
Makes one 8 or 9 inch cake, or 6 individual cakes

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Berries of your choice (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed. When the egg whites form soft peaks, slowly add the sugar. Beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the powdered sugar.

Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper and smooth the top(s) if necessary. Bake for approximately 2 hours, or until the the surface of the meringues appears hard and dry. Cool completely.

When ready to serve, whip the whipping cream, adding the sugar and flavoring during the last 30 seconds or so of whipping. Spoon over the baked meringue and top with berries.