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Thursday
Jul192012

Summer Berry Pavlova

Summer Berry Pavlova

Heat is oppressive. It wasn't until this summer that I fully began to understand the effects of a never-ending swelter. With a heatwave lasting the length of the sunny season bearing down on me, cool air has seemingly become a luxury of the past. I now realize just how often I took air conditioning (and a hundred other little things) for granted since I moved into a new apartment in a new city.

I used to think heat was glamorous. After reading books set in the deep south such as The Secret Life of Bees and watching movies like Gone With the Wind, my perspective has become skewed. I imagine pretty girls in patterned dresses drinking lemonade on the back porch and fanning themselves with a good book to stave off the sultriness of summer.

Oh, was I wrong.

Summer Berry Pavlova

My apartment is on the top floor of a building; when temperatures rise, the heat in the building rises, and I'm left with a kitchen that could pass for a sauna. The blazing sun has become an unwelcome sight in my windows. Keeping the blinds closed has become something of a survival tactic, as my apartment converts into a stifled cave when I struggle to keep out the heat. I have a small wall air conditioner, but it is useless against the rising heat of the building, scarcely lowering the temperature after running for most of the day.

The heat rarely registers below ninety degrees in my living room and I am starting to understand how food roasting in the oven must feel. At night the temperature impossibly rises as I strip the bed of sheets and fall into a fitful sleep in the path of an industrial fan. I've suffered bouts of heat exhaustion simply from lying on the couch in a heat induced stupor for too long, exhausted and dehydrated from doing absolutely nothing.

Summer Berry Pavlova

There is nothing glamorous about heat. I couldn't have been more wrong in my fantasies of the women of the south and their glasses of lemonade and magazine fans. Now, after living in my own little "deep south," I can appreciate how much people do suffer in the heat, with humidity so high that it suffocates and air so still it feels like a boa constrictor slowing wrapping itself around your body. Heat is really just sweat, frizzy hair, and dreams of crawling into the freezer next to the frozen vegetables.

Last weekend, my parents held a small summer party and I offered to make a couple desserts. Outside in the hot summer air, these Summer Berry Pavlovas were a cool treat to serve and impress. They are light and delicate, which is a lovely quality during the dog days of summer when a bowl of cold cereal is good enough to call dinner.

Summer Berry Pavlova

This Summer Berry Pavlova is sweet, light, and fresh. The pavlova is a large meringue with a crisp exterior and a soft, marshmallow-like interior. When the pavolva cools, the center collapses, revealing a cavity that is filled with a white chocolate whipped cream. The pavlova is topped with fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, with white chocolate shavings and a dusting of powdered sugar. These are a cool delight when the heat is high and friends are near.

One Year Ago: Butterbeer
Two Years Ago: Grilled Peaches

Summer Berry Pavlova

Yields 4 mini pavlovas

Pavlova
1 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, place the vinegar onto a paper towel and rub over the bowl and egg beaters to eliminate grease (which can prevent the meringue from rising).

Beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and cornstarch while beating and keep beating until stiff, shiny peaks form. Whip in the vanilla extract.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (do not skip this step!).

Divide meringue into 4 equal portions and form into disks approximately 2 inches high, creating a slight dip in the center for filling later. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until meringues appear dry and are barely gaining color. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and allow pavlovas to cool to room temperature before removing from the oven (the centers will fall; do not be alarmed). Very carefully remove from parchment paper and transfer to serving dishes.

White Chocolate Whipped Cream & Berries
1 3/4 cups (414 ml) whipping cream
1/4 cup (59 ml) white Creme de Cacao liquor
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
White chocolate shavings
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Meanwhile, whip together the whipping cream, white Creme de Cacao liquor, powdered sugar, and vanilla until peaks form. Chill the whipped cream until ready to serve.

To Assemble
Fill the centers of the meringue with whipped cream. Top with fresh berries and white chocolate shavings. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve immediately.

Reader Comments (17)

That looks glorious!! Pavlova is perfect for summer - us Aussies always have it at Christmas xo
07.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlyce
Deepest sympathies for your heat situation! I was born and am still living in the "Deep" South (Coastal Mississippi), so I've been there! We are having a mercifully cool summer (only 90 degrees most days!) and are watching with sympathetic wonder as the rest of the country stays gripped. Lemonade does help! So does loitering in air-conditioned commercial buildings ;)
07.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichal
This is stunning! I haven't even tried pavlova, but now I simply HAVE to!
Ahhh! I need this in my mouth right now. Your creations are so amazing!
07.20.2012 | Unregistered Commentervivi k
This sounds (and looks) so yummy! I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the versatile blogger award, check out my blog to see the terms for accepting the award :)
07.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I have never thought about meat roasting in ana oven, but you're right, this sweltering heat all across America definitely feels like being roasted. I did give a little giggle at the little comment.

The pavlovas look incredible, really and truly amazing :)
Having actually tried these directly from the chef herself, I can honestly say that these pavlovas are simply amazing! It is a perfect blend of meringue, cream, and berries. This is the sort of dessert you daydream about. Thanks so much for sharing them with us, A real treat!
07.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMama Rose
Have to try this combination of toppings next time I make pavlova. If you have the opportunity the next time you make these, top with a little mascarpone whipped cream and fresh passion fruit.
07.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Sheeesh, and I thought the 80 degree weather over here in California was on the annoying side- deep sympathies for your situation! And the pavlovas look stunning.
I so feel for you in this heat! We've got 106 degree temps, but thankfully our air conditioner works well and keeps the house in the 70s. I'm so sorry your apartment gets so warm. I think I would just melt away. Before we know it, autumn will be here - at least that's what I keep telling myself. :D
This dessert looks fabulous! Bookmarking...
07.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I have been following your blog for a little while now but haven't taken the time to tell you how much I enjoy it so today seemed like a good day to do so. Cheers to many more great posts!!
07.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill
i feel your pain... the humidity is what makes it unbearable! hope you're having a great weekend!
07.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPunctuation Mark
This recipe looks very good. I am not familiar with pavlova but it took my interests and I feel this should be the recipe for start!
07.24.2012 | Unregistered Commenternotesfromkitchen
I have never even heard of pavlovas before . . . these look and sound simply amazing! Sorry to hear about the bad heat you're dealing with. It hasn't been great here (Wisconsin), either, and I don't have air conditioning, but I do have a river in the back yard, a fan in my bedroom, nights that still get fairly cool, and the hope of a thunderstorm tomorrow. The good thing about summer heat is that in can't stay forever (at least in the Midwest).
07.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterErica
Your stifling apartment sounds dreadful and I don't know how you do it! I don't mind heat for periods of time, but when I'm ready for sleep, I can't bear it... But these pavlovas are incredible - I'm always fascinated by them, but yours are particularly gorgeous. I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I can't wait to see what you create next…
07.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJavelin Warrior
I feels o hungry looking at this food.Looks so delicious and sweet.I get curious of it's taste and so I plan also to prepare same food and list all your ingredients to buy next weekend.
08.17.2012 | Unregistered CommenterOgee skirting
Making these for Christmas Day here in Australia,baskets made,just need to fill up on the day,perfect for a hot Christmas Day....Thanks...
12.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaffyg

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