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Pavlova: an easy recipe for a classic light, airy Australian dessert

Total time: 90 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
large egg whites at room temperature
Cream of tartar
1/2 tsp
superfine white sugar
1 cup
pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp
white distilled vinegar
1 tsp
1/2 tbsp
for the topping
cold heavy whipping cream
1 cup
Granulated white sugar
1 tbsp
pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp
fresh fruit

For a delicious lighter-than-air dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth, there's nothing like homemade pavlova. This easy-to-make dessert is wildly popular in Australia and New Zealand, where it's enjoyed around the Christmas holidays, as well as all year long.

Pavlova is made from meringue which is topped with whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit. It's a little chewy and crisp, with a wonderfully soft, almost marshmallow-like inside.

If you want to serve an elegant, simple dessert and highlight the gorgeous flavors of seasonal fruits, pavlova is the perfect dessert for you!

What is Pavlova?

Pavlova is a delicious meringue-based dessert named for the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It's made from light, airy meringue, and topped with sweetened whipped cream, and a variety of fresh fruit.

The pavlova as we know it today dates back to the early 1920s. It's a classic dessert in Australia and New Zealand and has since spread across the world. Pavlova is usually served over the holidays but is often enjoyed throughout the year.

Pavlova vs Meringue

Pavlova uses meringue as a base, which then has whipped cream and fruit added on top of it.

Regular meringues are typically enjoyed alone. The preparation remains the same.

Pavlova Ingredients 

The key to making a great meringue base for your pavlova is to use room-temperature egg whites. This will help you get stiff peaks. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them in a bowl with warm water and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.

You'll also need cream of tartar, sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch. This will help the meringue to hold its shape.

Superfine sugar is the way to go – it'll dissolve most easily in the egg whites.

For the topping, you'll need sugar, heavy whipping cream, and a dash of vanilla.

To finish off the pavlova, use a selection of fresh, in-season fruit. Berries, kiwi, pineapple, mango, coconut, passionfruit, and cherries are always great options.

How to Make Pavlova

It's incredibly easy to make this beautiful dessert. Start by heating your oven to 250F. Draw a circle on a piece of parchment paper, then flip the paper over and lay it on a baking tray. Now it's time to make the meringue. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

Beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff, glossy peaks form. Make sure the sugar has completely dissolved before adding in the vanilla. Gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch. Once the ingredients are combined, spoon the meringue mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it evenly with a spatula.

Bake the meringue for one hour, until it dries out and turns a light cream color. Turn off the oven and leave the door open and let the meringue cool completely.

Make the topping by beating the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to form stiff peaks. Dollop the whipped cream in the center of the meringue. Top with preferred fruit and serve.


Pavlova Topping Ideas

You can use any type of fruit to decorate your pavlova. Berries, pineapple, mango, kiwi, pomegranate, passionfruit, and more all work beautifully with this dessert. Use whatever fresh fruit is in season for the best flavor.

Can You Make Pavlova Ahead of Time?

You can make the meringue up to two days ahead of time. Don't assemble the pavlova until you're ready to serve it; it will begin to disintegrate as soon as the whipped cream and fruit come into contact with the meringue.

Tips for Making the Best Pavlova

Any type of starch will work in this recipe. If you don't have cornstarch, use flour, arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca flour, or rice flour.

You can easily make mini pavlovas. Make several small circles instead of one large one and bake them for 30 minutes instead of one hour.

Make sure the bowl you use to make the meringue is spotless. Any grease stains will prevent the stiff peaks from forming properly. This will help stop your meringue from collapsing.

If your pavlova is weeping, it means you haven't properly mixed the sugar into the egg whites. Weeping pavlovas are also caused by high humidity. This is what makes pavlovas crack and become soggy. The meringue won't keep as well if it's humid. If you can, save your pavlova making for dryer days.

If your pavlova turns brown, it's because your oven is too hot. Keep an eye on the meringue while it's baking. You can always lower the temperature to prevent browning.

How to Store Pavlova

Once the whipped cream has been added to the meringue, it will start to break down.

If you plan on storing the pavlova, keep the cream and fruit separate from the meringue. The dry meringue will last about 2 days in an airtight container.

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Preheat your oven to 250°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Draw an 8-inch circle in the center of the paper. Flip the paper over.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

Beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time on high until stiff peaks form and the sugar has completely dissolved.

Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the vinegar and cornstarch.

Using a spatula, spread the meringue inside of the circle of parchment paper.

Bake for 1 hour or until the meringue is dry and a light cream color.

Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the meringue cool completely.

When ready to assemble, put the meringue on a serving platter.

Beat the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to form stiff peaks.

Dollop the whipped cream in the center of the meringue. Top with preferred fruit and serve. Enjoy!

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