SUMMER BERRY TIERED MASCARPONE PAVLOVA
This Russian ballerina inspired dessert looks a bit like a vertical ice cream sundae, but will not melt quite so quickly. Crispy exteriors and soft chewy interior meringue cookies are held together with a mild pillowy Italian-style cream cheese and topped with freshly picked berries and two sauces that really should be doubled and swirled into breakfast oatmeal, drizzled over ice cream, or used as a topping for angel food cake. With all of the pieces made in advance, assembly before serving is quick work and provides a visually appealing tower worthy of being served during the fireworks display on the Fourth of July--do tuck some sparklers into the pavlova, light just before dessert time and enjoy the wonder and surprise as the pavlova makes its way to the table.
Nota bene: The mascarpone cream may be made in advance and refrigerated up to five days. The meringue cookies may be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container. Best to avoid making on days when humidity is above 75 percent to preserve crispy texture. Increase the cooking time a few minutes on humid days. This recipe makes 36 meringue cookies.
FOR THE PAVLOVA
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and use the bottom of a glass to trace twelve 2 3/4" circles on the paper of each tray. Set aside.
2. Put 1/2 pint of of the blueberries, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Mash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon, or use an immersion blender, to make a puree. Cook for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Put 1/2 pint of the raspberries, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in another saucepan over medium heat. Mash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon, or use an immersion blender, to make a puree. Cook for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are shiny. Begin adding the castor sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue becomes stiff (but not dry) and shiny.
5. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla over the meringue and gently fold. Divide the meringue into 3 equally sized bowls.
6. In the first bowl, use the end of a wooden skewer to swirl a bit of the blueberry puree through the meringue to make a violet and white combination. The meringue should look like swirls of violet and white rather than one uniform color. Reserve the remainder of the sauce for assembly.
7. In the second bowl, use the end of a wooden skewer to swirl a bit of the raspberry puree through the meringue to make a hot pink and white combination. The meringue should look like swirls of fuchsia and white rather than one uniform color. Reserve the remainder of the sauce for assembly.
8. Gently drop the marbled meringue onto the circle drawn on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
9. Flatten the top and smooth the sides of the meringue with a spatula. Each meringue should be 2 3/4" diameter and roughly 1/2" tall.
10. Put in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 250 degrees F.
11. Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven until it cools completely (leave meringues inside).
12. Once the meringues are cool, remove from the oven. Reserve until ready to complete the dessert.
FOR THE MASCARPONE CREAM
1. Combine whipping cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer.
2. Slowly turn the speed of the electric mixer to high and beat until the mascarpone cream starts to seize and thicken.
3. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in the milk, beating just until well combined. Set aside.
1. Put one blueberry cookie on the bottom of an individual serving plate. Spread a dollop of mascarpone cream on top and drizzle with a tiny bit of reserved blueberry sauce.
2. Top with a white meringue cookie and spread a dollop of mascarpone cream on top. Add the third and final raspberry meringue cookie. Spread a dollop of cream and a tiny bit of reserved raspberry sauce.
3. Finish with a mint leaf, additional sauce drizzled around the plate, and a few whole berries. Serve within one hour.
MAKES 12 SERVINGS
FOR THE PAVLOVA
8 egg whites
2 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Small fresh mint leaves for garnish
FOR THE MASCARPONE CREAM
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk