This dessert was created in Australia in honor of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It consists of a crisp meringue nest that's traditionally topped with fresh berries and whipped cream. Here we've topped the meringues with kiwifruit, in a nod to New Zealand, and added candied pistachios and a bright raspberry sauce. If you're lucky enough to have access to fresh passion fruits, use them in lieu of raspberries for a true Down Under dessert.
egg whites (at room temperature)
pure vanilla extract
fresh lemon juice
unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
heavy (whipping) cream
pure vanilla extract
ripe kiwifruits (peeled and sliced)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until the whites form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and very creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch and vanilla and beat another minute on medium speed.
Divide the meringue into 6 puffy rounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing so they don't touch. Make a shallow well in the center of each meringue with a small ladle or soup spoon. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and reduce the heat to 250 degrees F. Bake until the meringues dry on the exterior but remain soft in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and allow meringues to cool completely.
To make the raspberry sauce, combine the berries, lemon juice, and sugar in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and strain into a bowl, discarding seeds. Taste and adjust to your liking with more sugar or lemon juice. Store the raspberry sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 days or freeze for 2 months.
For the sugared pistachios, melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add the pistachios and cook over medium heat until the nuts are hot and begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and sprinkle the nuts with the sugar. Stir until the sugar melts and the nuts appear shiny, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully! The nuts can burn very quickly during this step. Spread the nuts on a piece of aluminum foil or a Silpat and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Place the cream in a cold bowl and whip until it starts to thicken. Add the vanilla and sugar, and continue beating until the cream is stiff.
To serve, place a meringue shell on each of 6 plates. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream in the indentation and top with some of the kiwi slices. Sprinkle with candied pistachios and drizzle the raspberry sauce around the base of the each shell. Serve immediately.
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