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1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 pints fresh or frozen berries
Whipped Cream for topping
1 Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5 Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7 Served topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Flo Baker's pavlovas in the San Francisco Chronicle: Fourth of July dessert has roots in Australia
If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling aprt. Remove from heat and let cool.
Yield: Makes 8-10 pavlovas.
Pavlova is a traditional dessert in New Zealand
Prep Time: 15 minutes
4 egg whites
Sprinkle cream of tartar over egg whites and beat until stiff. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add the mixture to the egg whites a tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed, until all is combined. The meringue should be shiny, white, and stiff. Fold in vanilla extract.
Reduce oven heat to 200 F. Mound the meringue on the pan in a round shape about 6 inches in diameter. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven, leaving meringue in the oven until it is cold or overnight.
Arrange fruit over the base of the pavlova meringue, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with chocolate chips, crushed or small candies, and/or additional fruit.
Use a serrated knife to gently saw slices. Store leftovers in a covered container.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Note: If you cannot find superfine sugar, place granulated sugar in a food processor and process until the sugar crystals are down to half the original size. Then measure and proceed with the pavlova.