Named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this gluten-free dessert is a treat that’s sure to please. Layered with a sweet, airy meringue, lightly-sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh peaches, the burst of flavor from fresh basil and hint of spice from black pepper make this one of our favorite summertime treats.
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 peaches, washed, pitted and sliced
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Begin by preparing the meringue, as it will take a couple hours. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan and draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side to prevent any markings on the meringue.
Add the egg whites and kosher salt to the bowl of an electric mixer. Using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until firm, about 1 minute. While the mixer is still running, add the sugar a bit at a time and mix until it becomes shiny with stiff peaks. This process should take about two minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift in the cornstarch, add the vinegar and vanilla and carefully fold with a rubber spatula to combine.
Mound the meringue into the center of the circle on the parchment paper and spread it out to edges, making a smooth surface across the top. Bake for 1 ½ hours before turning off the oven. Keep the meringue in the oven, allowing it to cool inside the oven for an hour without opening the oven door. Once cooled, it should be crisp on the outside but still soft inside.
While the meringue is baking, prepare your peach mixture so it has time to rest before assembling the pavlova. In a glass or other non-reactive mixing bowl, toss together the peaches, sugar, salt, pepper and basil until fully coated. Cover and let sit at room temperature for up to two hours.
When the meringue is finished and you’re ready to assemble, prepare your whipped cream by mixing on high with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, remove the meringue from the parchment paper and place in the center of a serving tray or platter. Top with whipped cream and cover with the peach-basil mixture. Serve and enjoy.