This Easter I was looking for a dessert that was light and spring-like, yet was gluten-free and dairy-free, and I found one in Pavlova; it’s also fat-free, but not sugar-free. Although named after a Russian ballerina, this dessert is apparently a favorite in Australia and New Zealand. I created this version after looking at recipes here and here.

Individual Pavlovas

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk sugar and cornstarch together for a few seconds in a food processor and set aside.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on a low speed until blended, then increase speed and beat several minutes until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding the sugar mixture, and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spread the mixture by spoonfuls to make 12 “nests” on the cookie sheets.

Shiny and unbaked on the left, firm (although fragile) and baked on the right.

Place into preheated oven and immediately reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes, until firm and dry. Turn the oven off and, without opening the door, let the pavlovas cool down inside the oven. (I left them there overnight, then transferred them to an air-tight container until dinnertime.)

To serve, top with whipped cream (for those who aren’t lactose intolerant) and fresh berries.

Note: We’re having 12 people for dinner. This would be an easy recipe to cut down to serve 4 or 8. The “serves 8″ version can also be made as one giant pavlova – spread into one 9” circle and bake for 90 minutes, using the same technique of preheating the oven, immediately turning it down, then cooling inside the oven.