This is a showstopping dessert, and one that takes a surprisingly little amount of work. The best and freshest peaches will put this entirely over the top—but the same technique can be used with cherries, apricots, figs, and in winter, even apples. —Claire Livia Lassam
Makes one 8-inch pavlova
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
- MACERATED PEACHES:
- 2 lbs fresh peaches
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 Tbsp icing sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Using an 8-inch dinner plate or pie pan, trace two circles on the parchment, leaving a few centimetres between the circles. Flip the piece of parchment over (so you don’t end up with pencil marks on your pavlova), and place back on the sheet tray.
In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. With the mixer still running, add brown sugar by the tablespoon, waiting for each addition to be completely incorporated before adding the next.
Turn up the speed for a minute or two until the meringue is very glossy and thick; if you hold the bowl upside down and it doesn’t fall out, you’re good to go. Sift the cornstarch, and then, on low speed, gently whisk it and the balsamic vinegar into the meringue.
Evenly divide meringue between the two circles, and use an offset spatula or spoon to smooth each one into a nice circle.
Place the meringues in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 275°F.
Bake the meringue for 1½ hours and do not open the oven during cooking. When time is up, turn the oven off. Leave the pavlova in the oven, and allow it to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
While the pavlova bakes, cut the peaches into halves or quarters, and toss with brown sugar. Place them on a parchment-lined tray, and put in the oven when the pavlova is cooked and the oven is off. They won’t cook fully but they will macerate and get juicy in the heat.
Whip the cream by hand or in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it forms soft peaks, fold in the cardamom and icing sugar. Set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
When the pavlova has cooled completely, place one layer on a plate or cake tray. Put half the whipped cream and some peaches on top, and then repeat with the remaining layer. Serve within an hour.
Images: Claire Livia Lassam - liviasweets.com