Want to make a dessert that looks like it took way more effort to put together than it actually does? Pavlovas really bring that "wow" factor whenever they grace a table for dessert. They are such a special dessert for many reasons, but it's their crisp exterior and soft marshmallow-like interior that makes them such a crowd-pleaser. The shape of pavlovas also add to their allure, since it proves to be the perfect vessel to fill with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Now is the perfect time to make this beautiful dessert and top it with all your favorite summer fruits.
Set the oven to 275°F. Whisk the cornstarch into the sugar; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer whisk the egg whites and the salt on medium-low speed. Once foamy, sprinkle in the cream of tartar, and increase speed to medium.
Make sure your mixing bowl is very clean before adding the egg whites. Any traces of grease in the bowl will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. This also means that there cannot be any traces of egg yolks in your egg whites.
Continue beating the egg whites. Once soft peaks start to form, begin adding the sugar-cornstarch mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.
Once all of the sugar has been added, increase speed to medium high. Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add in the vanilla extract, and mix for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate.
Using a spatula, spread the meringue into the shape of a circle that is about 8 inches in diameter. Create a small indent in the center, while keeping the edges slightly taller. Put the pavlova into the oven, immediately reduce the heat to 250°F, and bake for one hour and fifteen minutes. When the pavlova has finished baking it should be dry to the touch and sound hollow when gently tapped. Allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven with the door slightly ajar, or overnight.
Use a pencil to trace a circle onto a piece of parchment paper, then flip it upside down and place onto the baking sheet. This will help guide you as you shape your pavlova. If the paper tends to roll up when on the baking sheet simply dab a little bit of the whipped egg whites onto the bottom side of each corner. This will help the parchment paper stay in place.
When ready to serve, fold the zest of one lemon into the whipped cream, then pour into the center of the pavlova. Garnish with berries and some additional lemon zest.