There are a few things in life that take your breath away - coming upon a waterfall in the jungle, the first time you hold your child (or so I'm told), a majestic towering pavlova....
Ok, maybe it's just me on the last one.
But seriously people:
Tell me that isn't strikingly gorgeous.
And it gets even better - pavlovas are ridiculously simple to make. The only tool necessary is an electric mixer.
First off, the egg whites and salt go in a bowl. Turn on the mixer and beat until shiny, soft peaks form. Gently add in the sugar, in 3 to 4 additions, beating as you go.
Sprinkle in the corn starch, ground cardamom, and vanilla. You could dust it in through a sieve if you'd like. Or sprinkle gently. From a great height.
Beat until shiny and incorporated.
Spread out the meringue into 2 equally huge discs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake for an hour at 300 degrees. Then turn off the oven and wait another 20 minutes (at least) before you take them out.
About halfway through the meringue cooking time, start the cherry sauce. Put pitted halved cherries in a small saucepan. Add sugar.
Cook on medium low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it resembles a loose preserves. Then add in the vanilla and cardamom.
Moving right along to the whipped cream, pour the cream into a large bowl. Beat it until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat as you go. Toss in the vanilla, and you're done. Try not to eat it all before you use it...
Now - the breathtaking part. Assembly!
Peel the meringue off the parchment paper. Don't worry if it breaks. Just gather up the pieces and arrange them on the serving plate/cake stand. Plop on a good half of the delicious whipped cream you just made. Drizzle on half of the cherry sauce, and top with half of the fresh cherries.
Enjoy watching your guests gasp as you present your amazingly easy dessert!
And then proceed to demolish it.
Cherry Cardamom Pavlova
Adapted from Adventures in Cooking
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla
For cherry sauce:
1 1/2 pitted cherries
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom
For whipped cream:
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 c. Fresh cherries, pitted and halved, for topping
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl (or KitchenAid mixer), beat the egg whites and salt together until shiny, soft peaks form. Add the sugar in 3 to 4 additions, beating as you add. Sprinkle in the corn starch, cardamom, and vanilla. Beat until shiny and thoroughly incorporated.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Make two giant round discs, about 2 to 3 inches high. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let sit for at least 20 minutes (or longer if you have the time).
While the meringue is baking, put the 1 1/2 c. pitted cherries, and sugar in a saucepan. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the water cooks out of the cherries, and then the pectin starts to jell the cherry water together again. It should look like very loose preserves. Add the vanilla and cardamom.
Next, start the whipped cream. Put the heavy cream in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in three parts, beating between each. Add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Ok - one more eye-candy picture....
Enough!! Start your mixers!