Pavlova with White Zinfandel Blackberry Compote

I had never licked a cake stand before…until I ate this. My husband and I ate this entire thing in one sitting (it’s supposed to serve 8-10 people…yeah right).  We each started with a small piece…then went back for 2nds…then 3rds…well, then we just finished it…and then licked the cake stand.  Yes, I am embarrassing myself a little (eh, not really, I’m a proud licker of lickworthy foods), but you must understand how good this dessert is.  Ina Garten said this would be included in her last meal on Earth.  I think that about sums it up, if you ask me.

What’s unfortunate is it’s difficult to explain to you what this tastes like.  It is unlike anything I have ever had before.  The inside tastes kind of like an angel food cake with a crisp marshmallow tasting edge…sort of.

Please, just make this dessert.  It is a showstopper.  Oh, and don’t make this on a rainy or humid day (meringues don’t do well in that kind of weather).

Pavlova with White Zinfandel Blackberry Compote

Ingredients:

For the pavlova:

  • 1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature (the room temperature part is VERY important)
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp red wine or raspberry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the White Zinfandel Berry Compote:

  • 12 oz package of blackberries
  • 1 cup white zinfandel (or ice wine/sweet wine)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (and more as needed)
  • zest of half a Meyer Lemon

Directions:

  1. To make the pavlovas: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (if you don’t have one you can use a hand mixer), whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a clean, dry bowl on high speed for 60 seconds, until foamy. Really make sure your bowl doesn’t have a speck of dirt or any oil in it, or your egg whites won’t whip up. Add the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping on high speed for 4 minutes, until you get stiff and glossy peaks.
  3. Lay a piece of parchment paper down on a sheet pan, dolloping a tiny bit of the meringue under each corner so the paper doesn’t move around. Scrape your meringue out onto the parchment in either one big pile, or 4 individual meringues.
  4. Carefully smooth them out into even circles with a spatula so you don’t deflate the egg whites, and make sure they’re not much more than 1.5 inches tall.
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300 degrees. Continue baking for another 40 minutes (45 if you have one big circle). Over this time, your meringue will puff up, take on a lightly browned color, and crack slightly. Turn the oven off, and prop your oven door open slightly so your pavlova can cool very gradually. Leave it in the oven with the door propped for at least 30 minutes.
  6. To make the whipped cream: When you are ready to put together your pavlova, prepare the whipped cream. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl, and whip with a hand or stand mixer for about 30 seconds until it thickens up. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and continue mixing until you get soft peaks.
  7. To make the compote: Pour the white zinfandel into a saucepan, and cook on high heat for 10 minutes, until reduced to a thick syrup. Turn the heat to low, and add in the zest, sugar (adjust this depending on the sweetness of your wine), and half the berries. Stew for 1 minute, then remove it from the heat, and stir in the other half of the berries.
  8. Spread the cream on your pavlova, and spoon the berry compote on top. Enjoy your pavlova!

Pavlova portion adapted from Gale Gand.

All images and text ©.