Easy, Light Pavlovas with Homemade Whipped Cream and Fresh Fruit

You know what’s great?  Birthdays.  You know what else is great?  Friends.  And combining the two is some kind of hyper-great for which a word has yet to be invented.  But in the meantime, we’ll just agree to call it the MOST fun.  Since we’ll have a houseguest on her actual birthday, BF and I had my law school biffle and her boyfriend over this weekend to do a little early birthday celebrating.  Like any bunch of 20-somethings would, we went out on the town and raged so hard that I can’t even remember what we did.  Oh wait, just kidding.

We played Settlers of Catan.  And it was SO fun and I have zero regrets about our lack of coolness.

We played Settlers of Catan. And it was SO fun and I have zero regrets about our lack of coolness.

I LOVE celebrating other people’s birthdays.  I haven’t had a birthday party myself since I was in elementary school, but that doesn’t diminish my love for friend birthdays– there’s nothing better than celebrating other people’s birthdays!  So even though it was nine days early, I made the “birthday” girl blow out candles and sit through some rather unenthused singing (cough cough, gentlemen), and she was a very good sport!

I seem to have lost my birthday candles, so out dinner table candles had to stand in-- it's the thought that counts, right??

I seem to have lost my birthday candles, so our dinner table candles had to stand in– it’s the thought that counts, right??

Since the guest of honor is Gluten Free a traditional birthday cake was a no-go, so I decided to seize the opportunity (and the copious free time I had since it was my Spring Break) and try a new-to-me recipe– a pavlova!  I don’t think I’ve ever had one before, but they are SO pretty that I couldn’t not make them.  Like, it hurts a little to eat them because they’re so beautiful.  But then you taste it and you don’t feel quite so bad anymore…

It got above 60 today, so it's officially warm enough that summery desserts like this are allowed.  Because I said so.

It got above 60 today, so it’s officially warm enough that summery desserts like this are allowed. Because I said so.  And they’re delicious, so why are you fighting me on this?

Pavlovas are super simple to put together; they’re just meringue topped with whipped cream and fruit.  Sounds simple right?  That’s because it mostly is.  But meringues can be a little fussy.  I test drove a chocolate pavlova recipe earlier in the week and it was less than successful.  I wound up having to cook the meringue wayyyy longer than the recipe called for, and the middle never did get quite right.  I’m not sure if it was the cocoa powder, or the fact that I made the meringues really big (like, cake-sized), but I changed both those things for the birthday gathering and things went much better, whatever it’s worth.

I also hadn't made whipped cream yet, so the meringue got topped with leftover sea salt caramel sauce instead.  It tasted fine but was far from beautiful (clearly).  And then I dropped it the rest of the meringue.  Let's just call this one not not a fail, shall we?

I also hadn’t made whipped cream yet, so the meringue got topped with leftover sea salt caramel sauce instead. It tasted fine but was far from beautiful (clearly). And then I dropped the rest of the meringue on the kitchen floor. Let’s just call this one not not a fail, shall we?

The whipped cream and fruit help cut the sweetness of the meringue, which should be crunchy on the outside and soft/a little chewy on the inside.  This is the perfect dessert for spring and summer; it’s light and airy, and you can use whatever fruit happens to be in season.  I’m making these all the time henceforth, I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I waited so long to try one in the first place!

Also, can we talk about the fact that spring is here (it IS, dammit!) and that means ALL of the fruit is coming?!?  I cannot wait.  !!!!!

Also, can we talk about the fact that spring is here (it IS, dammit!) and that means ALL of the fruit is coming?!? I cannot wait. Endless berries for everyone!

Vanilla Pavlova with Raspberry and Chocolate (makes 6-8 servings)

Meringue recipe from A Beautiful Mess

  • 6 Egg Whites (store yolks with a little bit of water so they won’t dry out before you use them)
  • 1 t. Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 t. Salt
  • 1 1/4 c. Sugar

Using an electric mixer beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt for 3 minutes.  With mixer running, add sugar a spoonful at a time, another 3-ish minutes.  Egg whites should form stiff peaks (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything moving); if they aren’t there yet, beat them until they are.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment and spoon on large dollops of meringue, creating a dip in the middle for whipped cream/fruit.  Bake at 250 for 1 hour 20 minutes; don’t forget to rotate pans halfway through so the meringue will bake evenly!  Some meringue recipes have you leave the meringues in the oven to cool (so they won’t fall), but I didn’t find that to be necessary.

For whipped cream, whip 2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream with a few tablespoons Vanilla until it looks close to the desired consistency.  You could use a mixer for this, but it’ll be a good workout for your arms and it won’t take that long, promise!  Add in Sugar a tablespoon at a time to taste and whip to desired consistency (I don’t like it very sweet, so I don’t use much sugar– if I wasn’t making it for other people I wouldn’t add any, but I’m a weirdo).

When you’re ready to serve, top meringues with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate sauce and sprinkle on some raspberries.  Everyone will love you forever.  And you can hold me to that promise.

Pavlova

I’ll never love again.

Depending on how much or how little of an arm workout you want, pavlovas take almost no effort.  And they look (and taste) SO impressive.  Who doesn’t love that?  That’s kind of the ultimate goal of pretty much everything, isn’t it?  Doing something impressive that looks like it took a lot of work but really took minimal effort?  I don’t know why I’m telling you this.  I just ruined the whole thing for myself.  Oops.  Don’t tell anybody I told you, ok?

GUYS make this.  MAKE IT, it’s so yummy and you will be so very glad you did.  And then use the yolks to make all sorts of delicious goodies like custard and lemon curd, and give them to your neighbors who will probably start doing your yard work and fixing your leaky faucet just in hopes of getting some more eggy treats from you.  Look at all the awesome things these pavlovas are going to do for you– get going!

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