Both Australia and New Zealand claim credit for the origins of this classic dessert, named after the ballerina Anna Pavlova after she toured that region in the 1920s. It's light and airy and elegant like her, the story goes. And if you ask me, it looks like the perfect nod to the dress in Swan Lake.
For the meringue: Preheat oven to 250°F.* Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet (turn the baking sheet upside down if it has a rim, so you can slide the meringue off later). If you like, draw a 9-inch circle as a guide on one side of the parchment, then flip it over so the circle is on the underside. (You can trace a plate or a cake pan to make it easy.)
Place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, or into a large bowl if using electric beaters. Whip until stiff peaks form. (If you lift the beaters or a spoon out of the egg whites, the tips of the peaks that form should stand up without falling over.) Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating for 30 seconds or so between additions. You should have a big, glossy bowl of what looks like marshmallow fluff at this point. Sprinkle in cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and fold in with a spatula. Spoon the mixture into a 9-inch circle on the parchment, using the guide if you made one. Bake for 60 minutes, then turn off the oven and let meringue cool completely in the oven.
For the whipped cream: Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer or bowl and whip until just firm enough to hold its shape.
For the berry topping: stir together berries, sugar and balsamic in a medium bowl.
To serve: Right before serving, slide meringue onto a cake plate. Gently spread whipped cream over the surface and top with berries and accumulated juices. Slice into wedges to serve. (Or go at it family style with long spoons -- no judgment.)
Meringue can be baked up to a day or two in advance if you like.
When separating the eggs, reserve the yolks for lemon curd or Hollandaise, coming next week.