Here is a nice Spring dessert that we discovered decades ago in the form of a mix in a big plastic egg called the"Magic Pavlova". We found it in a specialty store that is long gone, as is the magic egg. It was a huge disappointment when both disappeared as we had no idea what the magic mix was made of. Years later, we had a visit from my sister-in-law's father and his Australian wife, Di. To our great delight, she made dessert that evening and lo and behold a Pavlova was created right before our eyes. Better still, she was willing to share the recipe. As you may or may not know, it was invented for the famous ballerina of the same name. It is sweet, light as air and quite spectacular. I have made a few minor changes to Di's original recipe, but here it is just for you.
For the Pavlova:
4 egg whites (room temperature is best)
1 cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar laying around, like I never seem to do, use 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup powdered sugar)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (very cold is best)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fruit - this one is all berries and bananas, but you might like mango, citrus segments, kiwi, peaches, plums. pineapple - just about any soft fruit will do.
Beat egg whites with ½ cup sugar and the salt until stiff, but not dry. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining sugar, then gradually add this mixture to the egg whites while beating. Then beat in the lemon juice. Trace a 10-inch circle onto a large piece of parchment paper, then turn the paper upside down onto a baking sheet (the egg white will pick up any pencil or pen it touches on the paper, so best to turn it over). Spread the egg white mixture evenly on the parchment paper into the 10-inch circle. Bake at 290-300 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour (turning after 30 minutes so it bakes evenly) Turn off the oven and allow to cool with the door shut. I get impatient after about an hour and pull that sucker out to cool down so I can finish it, also I have a restaurant stove that never really cools down - do what you will with that information.
While the Pavlova is cooling, whip the cream with the 3 Tablespoons sugar and vanilla to soft peaks. When the Pavlova is completely cool, spread the whipped cream over the top and arrange your fruit on the cream.
This is not really a make ahead dessert, although you could make the meringue bit ahead and store it in as air-tight a situation as you can muster (good luck finding a Tupperware to fit that!), then put the cream and fruit on later. In any case, It is a lovely dessert I'm sure you and yours will enjoy as much as we do.