If you've never heard of a pavlova, it's sweetened egg whites (meringue) that are baked low and slow to dry them out. These are topped with fresh whipped cream and berries. Traditionally, a giant pavlova is made and then cut into pieces like a pie. However, it tends to crack so these are a better option. Plus, I like individual desserts...better portion control. Unless you eat more than one! But no one does that, right? When I was in Ireland last week, I popped into a lot of bakeries. Most of them had these individual pavlovas in them, so I think they're more popular in Europe than they are in the States. Those Europeans know what they're doing because these are good!
The beauty of these is that they're light, simple, and can be made in advance. You can make the shells up to two weeks in advance, the whipped cream in advance (or use store bought), and then you just need to slice up the fruit, which you can do ahead of time, too. All you have to do is assemble them when you're ready to serve. Beautiful, easy, and light. A great dessert!
Individual Pavlova Recipe
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For the shells:
4 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the topping:
1 cup strawberries, hulled and diced
1/4 cup blueberries
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Whip the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium low speed until foamy. Increase the mixer to medium high speed and whip to soft mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add in 1 cup of the sugar while the mixer is running. Beat the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks, about 1-3 minutes.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Scoop 1/2 cup of the whites onto the baking sheet and form into nests using the back of a spoon. Or fill a large Ziploc bag with the meringue, cut off the corner, and pipe the meringue into nests on the baking sheet. You'll want to make an indentation in the middle so you can fit more whipped cream and berries in it. Make 6 of these, and space them about 1 inch apart. Bake the meringues until they have smooth and dry exteriors, about 1.5 hours. Turn the oven off and let them sit in the oven for about 2 hours (I let mine sit in there overnight).
Toss the cut strawberries with the 1 tablespoon sugar.
To make the whipped cream, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on high onto soft peaks form.
Place the pavlovas on a serving plate(s), fill the nests with whipped cream, and top with the berries. Serve immediately.
You can make the pavlovas ahead of time and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. You also can add or substitute other fruits, such as cherries, peaches, kiwi, raspberries, etc.
Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book