Pavlova is little-known here in the States, but it’s the apple pie of Australia and New Zealand. Here’s my version which hews pretty close to the standard (there’s not much room to move where meringue is concerned). Toppings can be all over the board, though fruit is traditional. You’ll need:
8 egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounces (2 cups) sugar
1 ounce (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
double to triple recipe Chantilly cream. Use half the sugar and stabilize it with two envelopes of gelatin if you’ll be holding the pavlova more than an hour
Preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and trace a 9-10″ circle on it using a pot lid. Grease it lightly and sprinkle it with cornstarch (corn flour).
Put the egg whites, salt and vinegar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip. Stir together the cornstarch and the sugar. Whip on medium to (very) soft peaks, then turn the machine up to medium high and whip in the vanilla and the sugar mixture in a small, steady stream. Whip to stiff peaks.
Scrape the mixture onto the parchment, into the circle you drew, gently shaping it into a cylinder about 3 inches high. If possible try to make the outside of the circle slightly higher than the center.
Put the meringue into the oven and immediately turn it down to 300. Bake for 45 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 and bake for another 35 minutes. At that point turn off the oven and let the meringue cool completely with the door closed. It can stay there overnight of you wish.
When ready to serve, place the meringue disk on a serving platter. Prepare the Chantilly cream and pile it on top, spreading it out until it begins to drip over the sides. Add any fruit you like for a finishing touch. Passion fruit puree is traditional as are strawberries in berry weather.