Peach Pavlova

Summer means peaches in Mississippi. Early varieties are cling, later ones freestone. Chilton County, Alabama peaches enjoy a vaulted reputation, but north central Mississippi growers in Pontotoc and Lafayette counties provide fruit that’s comparable or better.

Meringues have a reputation for being tricky and if you’re clumsy they are. Bring the whites to room temperature before whipping (use a mixer, trust me on this), and while back in the day humid weather could make a meringue heavy, in air-conditioned homes it’s not a factor. A squirt of lemon juice or a few drops of vinegar helps stabilize the froth.

Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a circle in the middle. For one meringue base, whip four egg whites until the peaks are soft, then whip in about a cup of cup confectioner’s sugar in a drizzle. When the whites are glossy, gently blend in a teaspoon each vanilla extract, lemon juice, along with two teaspoons cornstarch. Spoon meringue onto the parchment paper circle. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, leaving a slight depression in the center. Bake for half hour, more if the center feels squishy. Top or layer with whipped cream and fruit. Chopped pistachios and/or almonds are a nice touch.