These light meringue nests, filled with lemon curd and berries (or anything else you like), make great finger food, perfect for serving large groups, and are a welcome dessert after a heavy meal. Pavlovas can be made in any size – tiny for parties, medium-sized for individual desserts, or make one large one and cut it into wedges, like a pie. Bonus: the meringues keep well, so you can make them up to a week ahead, store them in an airtight container, and assemble them right before serving.
1-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 t. cornstarch
6 large egg whites
1/2 t. white vinegar
1/2 t. vanilla
lemon curd (optional)
fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or sliced strawberries, peaches, plums, apricots or kiwi
Preheat the oven to 250°F and line two large baking sheets with foil or parchment.
Stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a small dish or measuring cup. In a large, clean glass or stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar-cornstarch mixture, a bit at a time, beating constantly until the mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks. Beat in the vinegar and vanilla.
To make small pavlovas, spoon small mounds (about a heaping tablespoon) of meringue about an inch apart on the lined baking sheets. Make little indentation “nests” in the middle using the tip of a teaspoon. To make one large pavlova, spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet and spread it out with the bottom of a spoon to form a 9” to 10” circle with a slight indentation in the middle and raised edges – a larger nest.
Bake one sheet at a time, or both in a convection oven, for 1 hour (small) or 1-1/2 hours (large), until the meringues are crisp and dry (they will be soft inside). Let them cool completely, then peel them off the foil or parchment. Just before serving, fill each pavlova with a small spoonful of lemon curd and/or whipped cream, then top with berries or chopped fresh fruit. Makes about 40 small, fewer medium, or 1 large pavlova.