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
- For Meringue:
- 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
- For Assembling:
- 1/3 cup blueberries
- 1/3 cup blackberries
- 5 (¼-inch-thick) slices watermelon
- Special Equipment:
- 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.