A Light Spring Pavlova

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Sometimes you just want to make a really pretty dessert; one that causes people to smile and make that happy kind of “ah” intake of breath sound that means you’ve scored a hit. But as all teenage girls know, “pretty is as pretty does” and pretty doesn’t mean you’re a nice person (dessert) on the inside. Well here’s the one you’ll want to take to the prom and still call a best friend. A Pavola is not only beautiful and delicious, but it can also be extremely figure friendly if not downright healthy like this beauty I made.

A traditional Pavlova is a stunning dessert with an intriguing history. It was created in the 1920’s for an equally stunning Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, either in Austria or New Zealand, with both countries still vying for the honor. The dessert, a meringue and cream concoction, had probably been around for a bit, but naming a dish after someone famous is a genius way to make it more memorable. I should probably be whipping up a Keith Urban Cake at this very minute.

A Pavlova isn’t just meringue and cream but involves fruit as well. The dessert named for Anna was loaded with passion fruit, but my Kroger seemed to be running short on that particularly delicacy, so I got to pick what I wanted and so can you.

I made another change that my family loved and I think you will as well – I switched the heavy whipped cream topping for a delicious mix of Greek yogurt with honey and lemon zest. Usually I’m the one stealing any leftover whipped cream, but I liked this even better- really! Since the meringue is basically just egg whites with a bit of sugar, the filling is fruit with a splash of liqueur, and the topping is yogurt with honey and lemon, this dessert should probably win a Super Foods award. But here’s the deal, the audience I cooked for last night would never know or care. Make this Pavlova regardless of your audience or bathing suit wearing concerns, or especially just to celebrate yourself and an early Spring with a dessert that looks like a party and tastes like one too.

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A Light Spring Pavlova

Ingredients

Meringue –

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

2 tsp vinegar

Filling

About 2/3 cup per serving of any combination of fruit, sliced if necessary (I used raspberries and blueberries and would have liked strawberries, but forgot to buy them!)

1 to 2 Tbsp any fruit liqueur or brandy

optional: a sprinkle of sugar

Topping

1 cup plain nonfat Greek Yogurt

2 Tbsp honey

zest of one lemon

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Directions

Make the meringues: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. My recipe could have easily made 8 small meringues, but I made 4 large ones for people who consider dessert the main dish.

I traced circles on the parchment paper to have a guide to spread meringue, but I’m sure many of you can make a lovely circle freehanded!

In an electric mixer with a clean, dry, bowl, mix egg whites with salt on medium high speed until soft peaks form.

Add sugar about 1/4 of a cup at a time until stiff peaks form (just a minute or so).

Add vanilla, cornstarch and vinegar to just combine.

Spread in circles on prepared pan and put in the oven.

Reduce oven to 200 degrees and bake for an hour to 1½ hours, until you can lift meringues off of the parchment paper with a spatula.

Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside for another hour. Remove to cool.

You can make these up to 2 days ahead of time and store tightly covered at room temperature.

While the meringues are baking, mix fruit with the liqueur and taste to see if you want additional sugar. Also mix yogurt with honey and lemon. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days as well.

To serve: Put meringues on individual plates, top with fruit and yogurt. Wait for the “ahs.”

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