Both Australia and New Zealand claim the honor of creating this airy, cream-filled, fruit-bedazzled dessert, which has been named for the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1885-1931).
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, whipped until it holds firm peaks
Sugar to taste
3 cups sliced fresh fruit in season, such as strawberries, bananas, kiwis, peaches, papayas, mangoes, or pineapple
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch pie plate or line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a 9-inch circle, using the plate as your guide.
Whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is stiff and shiny. Then beat in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla. Fill the plate with the meringue mixture, hollowing out the center slightly. Or, mound mixture in center of circle. Spread meringue out to cover circle, then make a depression in the center.
Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meringue is very lightly brown. Cool slightly, then unmold and cool completely. (It may collapse slightly.) Just before serving, add sugar to taste to the whipped cream, add half the fruit, and fill the center of the Pavlova with it. Pile the remaining fruit on top.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 11 cookbooks, most recently “Southern Biscuits.” Visit Nathaliedupree.com.