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Cheesecake pavlova with berries

This traditional meringue-based dessert gets updated with a cheesecakey filling, topped with fresh berries. It’s a great gluten-free option that can be made ahead and assembled right before serving. The meringue nests can be made as several individual servings or one large Pavlova, to serve in wedges. With a crisp exterior, a tiny splash of vinegar – undetectable, flavour-wise – guarantees the meringues a marshmallowy middle.

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1 1/2 cups (750ml) sugar
1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) cornstarch
6 large egg whites
1/2 tsp (2 ml) white vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla

Cream cheese filling
1 8-oz. pkg (250 g) cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) icing sugar
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (whipping) cream
fresh berries, for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 250°F and line two large baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch until no lumps of cornstarch remain.

3. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar a bit at a time, beating constantly until the mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks, with the texture of shaving cream. Beat in the vinegar and vanilla.

4. To make individual Pavlovas, spoon the mixture by the 1/4-1/2 cup onto the prepared sheets, then using the back of a spoon, make an indent in the middle, forming nests. (Option: Make one large Pavlova by spooning the meringue onto the baking sheet and spreading it with the bottom of a spoon to form one or two 9″-10″ circles with a slight indent in the middle and raised edges, like one large nest.)

5. Bake mini meringues for 1 hour (or 1 1/2 hours for a large Pavlova), until crisp and dry.

6. While the meringues are cooling, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Add the cream and continue beating until the mixture is thick and creamy.

7. Carefully peel the meringues from the foil or parchment. Right before serving, fill each pavlova with a generous dollop of cream cheese filling, then top with berries.

Makes about 18 mini Pavlovas, or 2 large ones. Serves 18.

Per pavlova with 2 tbsp each cream and blueberries:

196 calories, 6.2 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 1.8 g monounsaturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 22 mg cholesterol, 23.6 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 0.4 g fibre

Originally published in ParentsCanada, April 2012

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