Berries for dessert? Sure! So long as they’re sitting on a piece of cake. I appreciate the fresh berries of the season, but when it comes to dessert I need something a little bit more substantial. Cake is always good, but a Pavlova is even better because it lets the berries think they’re getting top billing, when really the best part is the light, flaky, crisp meringue and the freshly whipped cream.
This recipe is from the Junior League of Austin, who modestly called it Meringue Squares with Fruit and Cream. Based on what I know about the famous Australian/New Zealand dessert, this is pretty much the same as a Pavlova, which is a meringue cake so light it was named after a ballerina. Unlike most Pavlova recipes I’ve seen, this one is baked in a square pan rather than in a free form circle. It rises pretty high up over the edge of the pan as it bakes, and you get a dessert with a crisp exterior, but fairly soft and not-too-dry interior.
A topping of cream adds just the right amount of richness and texture. The Junior League left theirs unsweetened, but I added powdered sugar and vanilla. You can make that call depending on your own personal preference or just how sweet your fruit is. Here’s a candid shot of what it looked like before I cut it into squares and made it look pretty.
This recipe is adapted from a great little cookbook called Necessities and Temptations.
Fruit and Cream Meringue Squares
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon of salt
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream (plus an optional 2 T. powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla)
1 pint fresh strawberries or whatever fruit is in season.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Rub an 8 inch square dish (I used Pyrex) with butter.
Mix together the sugar, cream of tartar and salt and set aside.
In bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar mixture a spoonful (I used a heaping tablespoonful) at a time and beat until sugar is dissolved. The original recipe said 15 minutes, but with a stand mixer this took about half that. Spread in the prepared pan.
Place in oven and turn off heat. Leave in closed oven for 6 hours or overnight. 3 hours before serving (I actually did this 1 hour before) whip the cream and spread it over the top. Top with fresh fruit and cut into squares before serving, or cut into squares and top each portion with fruit.
Many years ago our family spent Christmas with close friends who owned a farm. Doris was a fabulous cook and dessert that night was a meringue baked in a springform pan served with whipped cream and thinly sliced oranges. It is now 40 years later and I still remember that dessert. Looks very much like yours except for the shape of the pan. She left it in the oven overnight. I make something like this called angel pie in which the pie crust is this meringue baked overnight then filed with a lemon cream. Wonderful dessert for Spring.
I love that this is baked in a square pan. I’ve always wanted to try pavlova – looks wonderful!
Wow, I’ve never seen a big square Pavlova. Looks great!
I enjoy reading about the interesting desserts you make…I’ve never heard of Pavlova…my horizons are broadening each day!
I have so many desserts to try when I retire this summer!
How fun! I definitely want to make Pavlovas! When I get out for summer break, I hope to do those; they seem like such a light and yummy summer treat!
This looks like a great recipe — really different. I have a jr. league cookbook (different from the one you mention here) but I absolutely love it. It’s one of my favorites (and that’s saying a lot, as I have probably 150 cookbooks ;)) Today I was looking through my files of recipes for low-ish calorie special desserts (like you’d make for a party) and came across one with a meringue base and topped with berries. Reminds me a bit of this one, only without the whipping cream.
What a nice dessert! And such a great way to use leftover egg whites (My family happens to love homemade ice cream with lots of egg yolks) 🙂
That’s the first time I’ve seen a square pavlova. It looks really good! And it’s started me thinking about our Easter menu. A few years ago I made a chocolate pavlova that was topped with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. So good.
I had this for dessert last night and it was fantastic.
This reminds me of the “Strawberry Kiss” dessert at The Stagecoach Inn in Salado! They shape their meringue like a nest and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then to with strawberries! I love the idea of making it in a pan.
My mom has the Necessities & Temptations cookbook – such a good one! Have you ever made the 3-flavor pound cake recipe? We have made countless ones through the years!