Adding an acid such as cream of tartar (a dry acid) or vinegar will help give the meringue structure. You can use either. If you are using cream of tartar, mix it in with the egg whites from the beginning. If you are using vinegar, add it with the vanilla extract later in the process.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Whipped Cream for topping
1 Prep baking sheet, preheat oven: Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the vanilla extract and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 Whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using), salt, to soft peaks: In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed, slowly add sugar-cornstarch mixture, then vanilla. Whip to stiff peaks: Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture.
A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.)
Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5 Bake: Place baking sheet in the 275°F oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency.
Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Cool: Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7 Serve topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Flo Baker's pavlovas in the San Francisco Chronicle: Fourth of July dessert has roots in Australia
Sauce or Filling Directions
If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling aprt. Remove from heat and let cool.