What better way to celebrate the birth of our great nation than with an all-American dessert honoring the red, white and blue?
This patriotic pavlova layers pillowy meringue with homemade whipped cream, fresh berries and the ultimate in spirited garnishes: watermelon stars. While dreaming up this creation, I had visions of strawberry wedges lending a pop of bright red color and flavor, but the recent heat wave on the East Coast had me craving something juicier. Watermelon was a color match, and the shape of a star was a Fourth of July must. The result is a festive garnish that’s easily added atop ice cream, tarts and custards, or swapped for your favorite seasonal berry.
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Patriotic Pavlova with Watermelon Stars
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 1 hr 20 min (includes cooling)
Cook Time: 45 min
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
3 Tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
For Whipped Cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup blackberries
5 (¼-inch-thick) slices watermelon
small star-shaped cookie cutter
Make the Meringue:
Preheat oven to 300ºF and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
Whisk together the granulated sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites only (reserve yolks for another use) with a pinch of salt on medium speed until they hold stiff peaks. Add the water (mixture will loosen) and continue beating until the whites again hold stiff peaks.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Add the sugar mixture, one tablespoon at a time, to the egg whites, beating until all the sugar has been incorporated. Beat 1 additional minute.
Increase the mixer speed to high. Add the vinegar and beat until meringue is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the meringue to the prepared sheet tray, spreading it into a roughly 8-inch diameter circle (it will spread some as it bakes) with the edges slightly higher than the center in order to create a base for the whipped cream.
Bake the meringue for 45 minutes until it is pale golden. (Do not open the oven while meringue is baking.)
Turn the oven off after 45 minutes and prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon, allowing the meringue to sit for 1 hour inside the oven.
Make the Whipped Cream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the heavy cream, sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes.
Make the Watermelon Stars:
Use the cookie cutter to cut out as many stars as possible from each slice of watermelon. Set the stars aside, along with the berries.
Assemble the Pavlova:
Carefully transfer the meringue to a serving plate. Top it with the whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Garnish it with the watermelon stars and berries. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.
Meringue recipe adapted from Gourmet.