1. Preheat the oven to 177 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking sheet with parchments paper or a silicone baking mat. (preliminary note: you will quickly reduce the oven to 93 degrees Celsius in step 4).
2. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 30 seconds between, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form. About 2 more minutes. The peaks should be stiff enough that you can hold the whisk upright and the peaks won’t move. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 more minute. The peaks should still be very stiff. If not, keep on mixing on high speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cream of tartar and cornstarch.
3. Spread the pavlova mixture into an 8-9 inch circle. You can make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon if desired. Make sure the edges are relatively tall and there is a nice dip in the center.
4. Place pavlova in the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce heat to 93 degrees Celsius. The pavlova will stay in the oven as it cools down to 93 degrees. Bake until the pavlova is firm and dry, about 90 minutes total. Rotate the baking sheet if you notice some spots browning. Try to limit how many times you open the oven as the cool air will interrupt the baking.
5. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool inside the oven. Once the pavlova is cool, you can store it covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or serve right away.
6. Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream, fresh fruit, strawberry topping, lemon curd or and desired topping. Slice and serve.
1. Make ahead instructions: See step 5 for making the pavlova in advance. Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it’s garnished. It doesn’t freeze well.
2. Egg whites: Room temperature egg whites whip faster than cold egg whites. Also, room temperature egg whites whip into a greater volume than cold egg whites. So make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.
3. Sugar: Superfine sugar dissolves easier into egg whites. To avoid tasting sugar granules, pulse 1 cup granulated sugar a few times in a food processor. You now have superfine sugar to use in this recipe.
4. Acid: You can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
5. Mini Pavlovas: Divide pavlova mixture up into individual portions instead of spreading into one large 8-9 inch circle. A piping tip isn’t necessary – you can just spoon it on. Make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings. Bake time depends on size, see step 4 for what to look for. If making 6 mini pavlovas, bake for 35-40 minutes at 93 degrees Celsius with a start 177 degrees Celsius.