Feeling super inspired when my cousin showed up with a dozen fresh chicken and duck eggs from his Karnes County brood I decided to try my hand at making a pavlova for my mom’s birthday this year. (Got my feet wet with a few successful merengue cookies first.) I used a peanut butter pavlova recipe from Alice Medrich, but omitted the peanut butter. I know, a travesty. Well, it turned out pretty great. With a thick smear of lemon curd and fresh berries, how could it really be bad, though?
1 cup superfine/ castor sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites (about 1/2 cup), at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla or the vanilla bean (seeds scraped and pod discarded)
half pint blueberries
half pint blackberries
pint of strawberries
spinkling of sugar for berries
store bought meyer lemon curd (such as this one from William Sonoma)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 275°. Trace a dark 7-inch circle on the parchment paper and flip it upside down on the baking sheet. If your sugar is not extra fine, you can spin it in a clean dry food processor for 15 seconds. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together thoroughly and set aside. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixer bowl. Beat on medium high speed (in the stand mixer) or high speed (with a hand-held mixer) until the egg whites are creamy white and hold a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the sugar mixture, a heaping teaspoon at a time, taking 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to add it all; you should have a very stiff, creamy-looking meringue. Scrape the meringue into the traced circle and use a metal icing spatula or a rubber spatula to sculpt the mass into a low dome — smooth or swirly, it’s up to you. Bake the pavlova for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it looks golden brown with a distinct pinkish hue and feels crusty on the surface, though it will be marshmallow-y inside. It may be cracked on the surface — that’s ok. Set the baking sheet(s) on a rack to cool completely (they will probably sink a little).
To Serve: Cut the berries in halves or quarters if they are large. Sprinkle with just a teaspoon or 2 of sugar. Slather the dome with swirls of lemon curd and garnish with berries. Saved the leftover berries to sprinkle over vanilla ice cream for the kids.