Bites of History: Christmas sweets have a long history around the world _lowres

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles -- The fruit- and cream-filled meringue dessert known as Pavlova has been a holiday favorite in New Zealand since the 1920s.

Advocate-tested recipe


Makes one 9-inch dessert. Recipe is by Cynthia L. Nobles. Recipes for this cream- and fruit-topped meringue first appeared in publication in New Zealand in the late 1920s.

3 teaspoons cornstarch, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white vinegar

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Fresh sliced fruit and berries for topping (strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, bananas, peaches, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 225 F. To keep meringue from sticking, take a piece of parchment paper the length of a cookie sheet and crumple it up. Line a cookie sheet with the crumpled parchment and draw a 9-inch circle in the center. (A cake pan is a good template). Sprinkle the circle and ½ inch outside the line with 1 teaspoon cornstarch.

2. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, vanilla and vinegar. Set aside.

3. In a large glass bowl, beat egg whites using high mixer speed 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff, but not dry. Add 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until thick and glossy. Carefully fold vanilla and cornstarch mixture into meringue.

4. Spoon meringue into the center of parchment circle and gently spread out, forming a 1½-inch lip all around the edge. The center should be about ¾-inch thick. Alternatively, make a 9-inch meringue circle that’s ¾-inch deep and pipe swirls around the edge to form a shallow bowl. Without opening oven door, bake 1½ hours. Turn oven off and let cool in UNOPENED oven 30 minutes.

5. Transfer meringue to a serving plate. Whip cream with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff. Fill center of the baked meringue with whipped cream. Right before serving, top with fresh fruit.