updated 10/06/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/11/2011 AT 9:30 AM ET
When Kym Johnson, the Aussie Dancing with the Stars pro, who’s currently paired up with David Arquette, finds herself missing home, she doesn’t need to travel further than her kitchen to whip up one of her favorite hometown dishes: pavlova – a traditional Australian meringue dessert.
“It’s my secret dinner party dessert weapon, and I’m getting my American friends to embrace it, too,” says Johnson, 35, who recalls fond memories of her grandmother and mom baking pavlova for family gatherings.
“It was always delicious,” she says of the treat, which is “gooey in the middle but crispy and crunchy on the outside.”
To finish, you top it with fruit. “It’s hard to make it just right,” says Johnson.
But how does the fit dancer maintain her enviable figure while satisfying her sweet tooth? “Portion control is the key,” she says.
Curious about Kim’s pavlova? Here’s a recipe so you can make it yourself:
4 large egg whites (½ cup)
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch, sifted
2 tsp. white vinegar
Sweetened whipped cream
Strawberries, kiwi and raspberries
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Trace an 8-in. circle on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil. Place, pencil side down, on a baking sheet.
2. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (about 2 to 4 min.). Add cornstarch and vinegar, beating just until blended.
3. Spoon meringue onto traced circle on baking sheet, spreading to fill and mounding edges slightly higher than center.
4. Reduce oven to 250 degrees. Bake meringue 1 hr. and 20 min. or until meringue is firm and pale brown. Turn oven off and allow pavlova to cool completely in oven at least 4 hours.
5. Top pavlova with whipped cream and fresh fruit just before serving.