Berry Pavlova with Pistachios

A Pavlova shell – a giant French meringue baked so that it's crisp on the outside and melty in the middle – makes the perfect base, when topped with a cloud of whipped cream, for berries and other summer fruits. The shell itself is easy and forgiving, and you can play to your heart's desire when it comes to the fruit topping. You might use just strawberries tossed in orange liqueur with toasted sliced almonds, or a combo of blackberries and ripe sliced peaches macerated in red wine, or citrus supremes (maybe whip some orange marmalade into the cream) – or even mango and roasted pineapple with a flurry of toasted grated coconut.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

For the Pavlova shell:

6 egg whites at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the toppings:

1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved (if small) or quartered (if large)

1/2 pint blackberries

1/2 pint blueberries

1/2 pint raspberries

2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau

1/4 cup shelled pistachios (raw and unsalted)

1 pint cream

1 heaping tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the Pavlova shell:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the egg whites in a large bowl, and, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat them with the cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously, and continue beating until they hold stiff peaks, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat briefly to combine.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of baking parchment, and trace an 8-inch circle on the parchment. Spoon the meringue onto the circle (it's OK if it overflows its boundaries), and use the spoon to make a slight depression in the center, with the sides a little higher. Put it in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat, and leave the oven door open as you let the Pavlova cool.

While the Pavlova shell is baking or cooling, macerate the berries. Combine the strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries in a large bowl, add the orange liqueur and stir to combine. 

Heat the oven or a toaster oven to 375 degrees. Place the pistachios in a small pan and toast the them, watching carefully so they don't darken too much, for about four minutes, till crisp but not yet brown. Let them cool, then chop them roughly. Set aside.

Just before serving, whip the cream in a large bowl till soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping briefly to combine.

Assemble the Pavlova:

Transfer the Pavlova shell to a serving platter. Spoon the whipped cream on top, spoon the berries and their liquid over the whipped cream, top with the pistachios and serve.