This beautiful dessert is perfect for any occasion. Enjoy it throughout the year but especially during berry season.
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla just until blended.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, spread meringue into a 10-inch (25 cm) circle with a raised edge and a slight indentation in the centre.
Bake in a preheated 250°F (120°C) oven until firm to the touch, about 1-1/4 hours. Meringue should be cream-coloured. If it appears to be browning, reduce oven temperature to 225°F (105°C).
Remove from oven and let cool.
When ready to serve, peel parchment paper off back of meringue. Place meringue on a serving plate. Cut strawberries into halves or slices, if large. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in liqueur, if using. Spread whipped cream over meringue leaving edge of meringue visible. Top with strawberries. Cut into wedges to serve.
Tip: Separate eggs while cold, but for best volume, let stand for 30 minutes before beating.
Tip: Pavlova should be crisp on the outside and marshmallow-like on the inside.
Tip: Avoid making pavlova on a hot, humid day as the meringue will absorb moisture from the air and lose its crisp exterior.
Tip: Any fruit can be used in place of the strawberries.
Tip: Meringue can be made several days ahead; store in an airtight container.
Tip: Pavlova will not keep and should be enjoyed within a few hours of preparing.