Scotch pavlovas with sour cherry sauce

A pavlova is basically a meringue decorated with whipped cream and fruit. You can use any fruit, but in this recipe, I use sour cherries.

Meringues are much easier to make than they look. There are only a few ingredients and they whip up quickly. I’ve included a few tips for separating eggs and whipping the whites into stiff peaks, so you will succeed even if this is your very first try. I hope you will make this dessert with your family.

The first time I made this recipe, I left out the whisky and served the dessert with its jewel-red topping as part of a Dracula-themed dinner party. Fun! The recipe for the sauce calls for sour cherries preserved in syrup and is given below. The tart sauce is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the meringue.

This time, I added a little Scotch to the whipped cream, just enough to leave a whiff of flavor. The whisky was in honor of the Bard Robbie Burns, born in 1759 on 25 January and honored with a big supper annually by Scots around the world.

The dessert was a fitting end to our Burns Supper for two this year. Unlike other years when we enjoyed family and friends with some live piping and poetry, this year was much quieter due to covid-19 lockdowns in our city. Sad but necessary. We can still enjoy good food together as a couple, though.

Meringues with Scotch cream and sour cherry sauce

Makes 2 large or 4 smaller desserts. I prefer the smaller servings for less added sugar at the end of the meal. Meringues require sugar to set properly so stevia won’t work in this recipe.

Make the meringues

  • 2 egg whites (save the yolks for tomorrow’s omelet or make lemon curd)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  1. Method for separating eggs: Crack the shell over a small bowl to catch the liquid eggwhites. Keep the yolk in the shell, then put into another small bowl. If you have succeeded to separate the yoke without contaminating the whites, transfer the whites to a medium mixing bowl. Break each egg over the small bowl reserved for whites. This method ensures that you will not get any yolk in with your whites, which will result in failure. Save the yolks and any contaminated whites for omelets.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 °F (150 °C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw two 5-inch circles or four 3-inch circles on the parchment paper.
  3. Beat eggwhites until stiff but not dry. Method: With a hand mixer on medium speed beat until soft peaks form when you turn off the beater and lift it out. Then beat on high until the peaks are glossy and stand straight when you lift the beater.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. The beaten whites will look thick and glossy.
  5. Combine the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch has dissolved. Gently fold the paste into the beaten whites.
  6. Spoon the mixture inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge. Leave a slight depression in the center.
  7. Bake the large circles for 1 hour. The smaller ones may be ready 5 minutes earlier.
  8. With a wide flat spatula, gently loosen the meringues from the paper. If they are sticking, they are not quite done. Cool on a wire rack.

Make the scotch cream

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Scotch whiskey (optional, nice for a Burns Day dinner)
  • 1 tablespoon home-made liquid stevia (or use maple syrup or icing sugar)
  1. Preferably with a hand-held mixer, whip the crem until it forms peaks that hold their shape.
  2. Add the sweetener and the Scotch (if using) and whip again for a few seconds. Refrigerate until serving time.

Make the sour cherry sauce

  • 1 cup sour cherries, pitted and preserved in a light syrup (available in a jar or can)*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teapoons cornstarch
  • pinch salt
  1. Add pitted cherries and juices to a medium saucepan.
  2. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes until cherries release all their juices.
  4. Taste and add home-made liquid stevia or sugar if you like the sauce a bit sweeter.
  5. Make a paste from the cornstarch, using a spoonful of the cherry sauce. While constantly stirring add the paste to the pan and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until sauce thickens.
  6. Remove from heat and cool. Sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for several days and also freezes very well.

*Note: If you can only find sour cherry jam, this will save you time. Just heat 1/2 cup in the microwave until it liquifies and use this instead of the home-made sauce outlined above. It is what I did for our recent Burns Day supper.

Assemble the dessert

Put one meringue on a pretty plate. Fill the center of the meringue with the Scotch cream and top with a spoonful or two of the sour cherry sauce. There should be enough cream and sauce to decorate either two large servings or four small servings. Pictured is a large serving, the 5-inch meringue.

Auld Lang Syne!

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