Cherry Pavlova

by Sarah on June 22, 2012

Cherry Pavlova

Summer in Israel is just like the one I had in upstate New York except more concentrated. The sun is more intense, the sky bluer and it’s as humid as a tropical island. Instead of flying off to another cold and foggy destination, we’re staying for the long haul. How will I survive? Gelato! Israel has imported the Italian ice cream culture entirely and even added its own Middle Eastern twist. Where else can you find orange-mint, raspberry-lychee rosewater, or tehina and date syrup flavored gelato?

Cherry Pavlova

I also take comfort in the fact that the hotter months bring on an extraordinary array of fruit. Loquats, cherries, apricots and berries arrive in rapid succession, each a brief and novel addition at the green grocer.  The season matures with figs and mangoes while plums, grapes and melon linger until late autumn.  As the nights lengthen Chinese dates, also known as jujube or nabaq, can be found both commercially or picked from the wild.

Cherry Pavlova

Species from around the world have been introduced and have acclimatized to the Middle East through extensive breeding programs. Pineapple and pitaya, a cactus fruit, are indigenous to South America and are now grown in the Negev Desert while blueberries, native to North America, are cultivated in the cooler northern region. Tropical and subtropical crops such as lychee, avocado and custard apples have adopted well to Israel’s warm climate and are now widely available.

Strangely, Israel imports pineapples from the Dominican Republic and apples from Washington State. This seems to me a ridiculous length to travel for any item, let alone a perishable. For the most part, however, the time from field to table is minimal. Produce does not need to be harvested before ripening or held in cold storage for extended intervals.

 cherry pavlova

About two weeks ago I bought more than a kilo of fresh cherries, realizing I’d have to wait another year if I missed the harvest window. I placed them in a large glass bowl and announced, “There are cherries if you want” to whoever could hear.  We gathered around, our fingertips stained crimson and seeds scattered in lazy piles on the table. And between greedy bites came the stories of their day….

pavlova meringue

I can’t say don’t I miss tubing down the Esopus River or the smell of balsam fir. I’ve never liked the sauna Israel becomes or that pot holders are needed to grasp the steering wheel of my car but if I can ignore that-with AC it’s not hard- there are sweet moments to be enjoyed. With gelato, of course, and summer fruit. But now with the longer days, casual visits from my neighbors have returned, visits the colder months have always squelched. I’d forgotten how much I’d miss these simple moments.

Cherry Pavlova


Pavlova is my son’s signature dish and he helped me make this.  Cherries oxidize quickly and lose their intense color and the reason I opted for a cooked syrup in this recipe.

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn starch, sifted

1 cup heavy cream (at least 38% fat)
1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

Cherry syrup

2 cups cherries
1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)


1 tablespoon of fresh lemon thyme, leaves separated from the stem

Heat the oven to 180⁰C (370⁰F). On parchment paper draw a circle of 18 cm (7 inches) diameter. Rub a bit of oil or butter on the parchment paper and dust with corn starch so that the meringue releases easily.

Whip the egg whites, first on low speed then on high speed until they are stable and hold soft peaks. Add the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon and continue whipping at high speed for another 10 minutes or until the meringue is stiff and shiny and the sugar is dissolved.
Add the vanilla, vinegar and corn starch and fold into the meringue using a wide spatula until incorporated.
Using a spatula or piping bag, create a circular meringue on the parchment paper, slightly higher on the outside so there is room for the whipped cream. Alternatively create smaller individual meringues.
Put the meringue in the oven, and reduce the heat to 125⁰C (250⁰ F) and bake for 1 hour (if individual shells are made they need less time). The outside should be hard and cream colored and the inside, soft, like a marshmallow but not liquid. Turn off the heat and open the oven door to allow it to cool completely.
Release the meringue from the parchment paper and place on a large serving plate.

Cherry syrup

Discard the stems and any bruised or blemished fruit. I was lazy and didn’t bother pitting the fruit but this step is recommended if you don’t have a fine metal sieve. Place the cherries (pitted or not) in a small pot with the sugar and heat over low flame. The fruit will begin to soften and turn into a thick pulp. Mix occasionally. Continue to simmer until the syrup sticks to the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and strain through a fine metal sieve. Using a spoon push the pulp against the sieve to extract the maximum amount of syrup. Discard the pulp.

Before serving, whip the cream and sugar until stable and pipe or spoon into the middle of the meringue. Drizzle with cherry syrup and top with lemon thyme. Serve immediately.


 this was cherry pavlova




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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Silvia June 22, 2012 at 5:51 am

oh, I think I’m gonna love Israel with all that tahini and sesame seeds popping on almost everything. thank you for the tahini ice cream hint, I’m making it now :)


Yael the Finn June 22, 2012 at 6:28 am

Aaaah,what pictures! Looks so beautiful.I think I have seen those jujubes,dried,in shuq Levinsky,but have not really understood what to do with them….


Yael the Finn June 22, 2012 at 6:33 am

P.S. where can you find fresh jujube?


Sarah June 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thanks Yael! I’ve seen them in Ramle and in my area as well but in early fall when the pomegranates arrive. The cultivated jujubes are the size of loquats but the ones I’v seen growing wild are more like cherries.


Yael the Finn June 22, 2012 at 10:26 am

Thanks! I will keep my eyes open…


Rosa June 22, 2012 at 6:35 am

Delicious! A wonderful summer dessert.

I would survive such a heat. ;-P




Eha June 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Had to smile because we here in Australia regard the pavlova very much as our ‘native dessert’ :) ! Passionfruit pulp and strawberries are the usual toppings with mounds of whipped cream beneath, tho’ have seen Chinese gooseberry and peach slices lately. But these cherry ones are so pretty and appetizing, I have to pass this post onto other local foodie friends! A little too cold to contemplate at the moment, but there is such a thing as bookmarking :D !


Sarah June 25, 2012 at 5:53 am

Eha, Australians have the best desserts! Send some of your cold weather this way.


nanda June 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

I liked a lot of your recipes.


Yael June 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

We’re waiting for another invitation for dessert evening (wink, wink, know what I mean?) Today Abi didn’t order the Pavlova at the restaurant because the general notion is that your son makes the best ones. Have a marvelous week.


foodwanderings June 25, 2012 at 5:28 am

Delish. Love the seasonality of cherries. So quick. I bought them recently on few occasions but they never made it into a sorbet or a dessert. Funny thing Jonathan was away on travel and he went over to a colleagues home for dinner, his wife is Australianm guess what she made for dessert?! :) & eeek a sauna!


Yael the Finn June 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

Lucky you that you got to meet the foodbloggers that came here .I heard about them coming here a few weeks ago from Pille when she asked me about the weather.Would so have loved to meet them too. How did you get to meet them?


Javelin Warrior June 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

What a simple and beautiful dessert – I love the contrast of colors between the meringue and the cherries… I’m featuring this in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I always love dropping by to see what you’ve created…


Sarah June 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Javelin Warrior, Yes, thank you for asking. Glad you like the photograph.


Denise July 3, 2012 at 8:50 am

Sarah, this is my favorite summertime dessert; but, I have yet to make it with cherries. I usually use mixed berries and passion fruit (when I can find it). Cherries are at their peak right now, so I better get baking.

Oh, date gelato? Yes, please.


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