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Meringue isn't just magical. It's mysterious. No one can quite agree on its origins (and here's a hint: it wasn't invented in France). While most food historians confirm MarieAntoinette's love of meringues, some say that meringue goes back to a much earlier date... and that it was invented in England, of all places.We know one thing for certain: meringue is deceptively simple, and once you know the basics, you can create sweet magic with meringue cookies, Pavlovas, pies, tarts - evenmarjolaines and dacquoises.Meringue can be spooned onto pies, or piped into any number of beautiful shapes. It can be baked or poached, whipped into silky frostings, or folded into cakes to make them fluffier. It can be combined with ground nuts, chocolate or any number of flavorings. It can be formed into various vessels for Chantilly cream and fresh berries. And that's just the beginning. Meringue will encourage you to embrace and inspire you to create heavenly creations of your very own.
Classic Berry Pavlova
Fresh, juicy berries atop luscious whipped cream and a lighter-than-air meringue shell. No matter how great the dinner, this show-stopping dessert will be what your guests talk about for days to come.
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
WHIPPED CREAM FILLING
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups fresh berries, any combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
MERINGUE SHELL: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy. Add vinegar and salt and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all of the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating on high until meringue is stiff with glossy peaks. Beat in cornstarch, about 1 minute more.
With a rubber spatula, empty the meringue into the center of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using the back of a spoon, spread the meringue from the center, making the sides higher, to form a 10-inch shell. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 250 degrees and continue baking for 1 hour. Turn the heat off but leave the meringue shell in the oven for 3 hours or more (or overnight) so that it continues to dry. When completely cooled, loosen the meringue by gently pealing it off the parchment or by sliding an offset spatula or knife underneath the shell. Use immediately or, if preparing in advance, carefully wrap the meringue shell in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
WHIPPED CREAM FILLING: With an electric mixer, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff.
FRUIT: Rinse the fruit and allow it to dry on paper towels. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with sugar.
TO ASSEMBLE PAVLOVA: Gently transfer the meringue shell to your serving plate. Spread whipped cream filling on meringue shell to within 1 inch of the edge to create a boarder. Top with fruit in concentric circles or pile the fruit on top for a less formal look.
NOTE: It's best to wait until you are ready to serve the Pavlova to fill the shell with whipped cream and fruit so that the meringue stays crisp.