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mini-pavlovas recipe

mini-pavlovas-done

The Pavlova is one of those bits of food magic that everyone should make once. While it may look intimidating, at its heart it is as simple as strawberry shortcake. You're not afraid to make strawberry shortcake, are you? I didn't think so.

This combination of meringue, whipped cream and fruit is a classic dessert Australia and New Zealand where it was created as a tribute to the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. As a denizen of the northern hemisphere, I find the idea of serving it for Christmas dinner, as they do down under, utterly delightful. Truth be told, however, my locavore aspect cringes at the thought. (I waited all the way until the 1st of March and a business deductible excuse to buy some for far too much money.)

My version calls for lemon juice, rather than the typical vinegar, which has the same effect on the egg whites as the vinegar but with a different whisper of flavor. (I am sure this is imagined since I never really taste the vinegar but I like the idea better.)

Meringues

makes six individual meringues

3 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Making the meringues

Preheat oven to 200° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the egg whites and pinch of salt in a mixing bowl; a copper bowl is best if you have it. Whisk by hand, or on lowest speed of mixer, for a minute to break up whites and make them a bit foamy. Continue to beat, increasing speed gradually until the whites are thick and starting to form soft peaks.

meringue for mini-pavlovaSprinkle sugar in just a little at a time while continuing to beat the egg whites. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add the lemon juice and vanilla extract by slowly drizzling them in to the bowl. Whip until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks.

Drop heaping serving spoons of meringue onto the parchment-lines baking sheet, flattening each mound to form a slightly concave top so the berries and whipped cream have somewhere to rest.

Bake at 200° for about two hours, then turn the oven off and let them sit for another couple of hours to finish. You can store these in an airtight container for a few days but I really recommend serving the day you bake them.

To serve
macerating berriesMacerate berries by slicing and sprinkling with sugar. Set aside on the counter for 30 minutes.

Whip some heavy cream, without added sugar - the meringues are so sweet you really don't need any.

Place a meringue on a plate, pile with berries and whipped cream and serve immediately so they don't get soggy.

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