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Making the most of meringue

Baker Kristen Lawson Perry shows us Pavlova, a dessert just ready for your favorite filling.

PORTLAND, Maine — Kristen Lawson Perry knows her way around the kitchen, and makes working with meringue look easy! This dessert can work any time of year, and you can change it up by varying the toppings you might add once the meringue is ready. Here is her recipe for Pavlova, baked meringue with whipped cream and fresh fruit/berries.

For the Meringue:
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
A few drops vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

For the topping:
1 pound mixed berries
½ teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 cups heavy cream

Method of Preparation:

  1. To prepare meringue: heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a circle on the paper using an 8- or 9- inch cake pan as a guide. Flip the parchment over so the pencil marking is facing down (this ensures that the pencil won't transfer to the meringue). In bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and salt. Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to medium - high. Continue until satiny peaks begin to form; gradually beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny.
  2. Sprinkle in cornstarch, white-wine vinegar and vanilla, and fold in gently. Mound onto parchment within circle, and shape into a disk, flattening top and smoothing sides. You may also choose to pipe meringue in concentric circles, starting on the outside by piping over the line drawn onto the parchment paper. Place in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and allow meringue to cool completely in oven.
  3. To prepare topping: in a mixing bowl, combine berries, vanilla, and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  4. To serve, carefully peel off parchment and place meringue on a platter or cake stand. Gently crack the top with the back of a soup spoon to make a shallow nest for the whipped cream and berries. Whip cream until it is thick enough to hold peaks, and spoon it evenly over meringue. Cover cream with berries, allowing a small amount of their liquid to dribble onto cream. Serve immediately.

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