A Fluffy Cloud of Happiness

Pavlova is guaranteed to impress, and easy to make.

Look at this dessert! It’s a Pavlova, named after legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after touring Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. It’s a texture lover’s dream, with meringue that’s crispy outside and marshmallow-soft inside, blanketed with lightly sweetened whipped cream and topped with luscious ripe berries. This is one of those wonderful “secret weapon” dessert recipes to have in your repertoire. It looks amazingly elegant, complicated and totally fancy pants. But, it’s surprisingly easy and quite inexpensive. Shhh ... don’t tell anyone!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-

planning recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com.

Mixed Berry Pavlova

For Meringue:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Whipped Cream:

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Assemble:

1 pint berries, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (To make sure your finished meringue will fit on your serving dish, use your plate as a template, and draw a circle on the paper with a pencil.)

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a bowl and hand mixer), beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating continuously at medium-high speed until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. (This will take about five minutes. At stiff peaks, the meringue will look gorgeously glossy and hold sharp, distinct points if lifted with a spoon.) Add the vanilla and blend once more.

3. Spoon meringue onto the prepared cookie sheet, using the circle as your guide. Build up sides with the back of the spoon leaving a depression in the middle. Place in 300 F degree oven, and immediately reduce heat to 250 F. Bake for 60 minutes, then without opening the oven, turn the heat OFF and let it sit in the closed oven for another hour. Let cool. Carefully remove the meringue from the paper and place on a serving plate.

To serve: Whip the cream to soft peaks, adding 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream and top with berries. Serve immediately, to great accolades.

For individual pavlovas, follow the directions above but divide the meringue into 6 or 8 portions. Use a spoon to shape small circles with a dip in the center to hold toppings.

MERINGUE TIPS

• Make absolutely certain that no egg yolk gets into the whites, because any trace of fat prevents them from whipping up. Use metal or glass bowls, not plastic. Fresh eggs make better meringue. Choose a dry day to make your meringues.

• No cream of tartar? Substitute an equal amount of lemon juice. Lemon juice is an acid. Adding acid to the egg whites strengthens the egg foam.

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