For a few years before the pandemic, my mother’s family gathered on Gabriola Island in British Columbia for a big reunion every year. Our family is like a snowball, gathering friends and in-laws and out-laws in as it rolls along. This pavlova recipe was given to me by a friend of my cousin Sarah who came to the family reunion one year when the wild blackberries and plums were plentiful. Really, when I make it, it is more of an Eaton Mess. A Pavlova is a beautifully formed cloud like disk of meringue topped with cream and decorated with fruit. An Eaton Mess is a tumble of broken meringues topped, jumbled with cream and seasonal fruit.
When we made this recipe at the reunion, the blackberries were gathered by my beautiful second cousins, who were teenagers at the time. Here they are after a victorious blackberry hunt.
It’s taken me a long time to post this recipe. So much has happened since the summer that this photo was taken. Some of these girls are married now. Some have graduated from college. Some have overcome immense challenges. Hope, second from the left, died in a car accident in February 2020. She was only 19 years old. Lately, I have been wondering a lot about what amazing changes would have happened in her life in these two and a half years.
Hope was an amazing big sister. Here she is with her younger sisters during the pavlova making.
Haley is the baker in this bunch. She made the meringues.
Grace and Rosie are the nibblers
All of these girls are so grown up now and I hope they won’t mind me posting pictures of them when they were little. I’m just missing my family so much. There is a family reunion this year in Alberta, but I won’t be able to go. I’m on Gabriola Island with my mum right now and I’m hoping that the blackberries ripen in time for her birthday. It was a cold wet summer so they are a bit behind schedule. If blackberries and plums are good where you are, make this recipe!
Blackberry Plum Eaton Mess
- 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- the seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz (2 cups) icing sugar (also known as confectioners sugar), sifted
- fresh blackberries and/ or ripe plums
- whipped cream (I like it unsweetened becasue meringues are SWEET!)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
- In a standing mixer or using a hand-held electric mixer, whisk the egg whites, cornstarch, and vinegar and vanilla together on high-speed for about 3 minutes or until they resemble shaving cream.
- Whisk the cardamom and powdered sugar together. Then, with the motor still running, start adding the sugar 1 heaping teaspoon at a time at a steady pace until all of the sugar is added. This process will take about 7 minutes. You should have glossy white peaks.
- Pour the meringue mixture into six equally sized circular piles (3 on each baking sheet). Use a spoon to swirl the tops and finesse the shapes a bit.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Some people like to leave their meringues in the cooled oven overnight before eating them.
- Meanwhile rinse and drain the blackberries, pit and slice the plums and whip the cream. Serve each guest a crumbled meringue with fresh fruit and cream.