I'll be straight. I don't make pavlova often. Which I realize now is completely silly. This dessert is hands-down low effort. And I love low effort. It's also light enough that you can have two pieces and still not feel full, which is nice when most desserts are not that way.
Too, you can't beat the simplistic beauty of a meringue cloud piled with swaths of whipped cream- the more homemade-looking it is, the prettier, in my mind. (Some pavlovas are painfully perfect with perfectly spaced bits on top that make me think of Barbie plastic...)
The only important part is the egg whipping, and really, if you have a free-standing mixer you are only supervising the work. (Handheld mixers work too if that is what you have.)
So get on with it!
Not a pistachio fan? Try shaved almonds or chopped walnuts.
Notes: Pistachios are lightly salted.
STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO PAVLOVA
Ingredients: 4 large egg whites at room temperature, 1 scant cup sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 tsp. corn starch, 12 ounces heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup sliced strawberries, 2 tbsp. chopped pistachios.
1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whip the egg whites on high using the whisk attachment of a free-standing mixer for about 5 minutes, until soft peaks have formed. They are soft because when you lift the whisk out of the egg white, it will make a peak that immediately collapses. (Make sure the bowl is very clean, with no greasy residue.) 3. Add half of the sugar into the egg whites. Turn the mixer back on and whip on high for about 30 seconds before adding the rest of the sugar. Go for another 30 seconds or so. 4. Keep whipping the egg whites on high until glossy stiff peaks have formed, another 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high for another minute or so until peaks are very stiff. (The peaks are stiff when you lift up the whisk and the peak holds its shape firmly without bending or collapsing.)
5. Fold in corn starch. Mound the egg white in the center of the parchment paper, then spread into an 8 or 9-inch circle, with a dip in the center. (You can draw the circle first by tracing a pan on top of the parchment paper if that helps.) I use a small spoon to push the egg white up around the edges making a 1-inch border all around a shallow crater.
6. Place baking sheet with egg white into the oven. Immediately turn down to 200*F and set a time for 90 minutes. Do not open the oven. After 90 minutes, turn the oven off. Let the pavlova cool in the oven for 2 hours.
7. Make whipped cream by beating heavy whipping cream on high until soft peaks form. Add in powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Continue beating until cream is thick, with medium-stiff peaks.
8. Mound the cream on top of the cooled pavlova. Decorate with slices of strawberries and chopped pistachios. Serve.
Make sure egg whites are at room temperature. I separated my eggs into a small bowl, and set the bowl on top of my range while preheating. I lightly touched them to check that they no longer felt cool. It took about 20 minutes.
You can make the meringue layer up to 3 days ahead. Store lightly covered at room temperature.