*Recipe originally posted in April 2012, new version posted with updated photos and recipe notes!
Until recently, Pavlova was a dessert I didn’t really understand. I’d seen them popping up here and there, but it never really appealed to me. Since the outside looks so hard and crunchy, I just assumed it would be dense and dry and crumbly. Then, a few days ago, I tried my first bite of one and I was in dessert heaven. I had never in my life tasted such a light and fluffy dessert. It’s airy and not too sweet and honest to goodness melts right in your mouth. The meringue gets crisp on the outside, but stays marshmallow-y on the inside, giving it the fluffy, light as air texture.
In doing research on recipes, I found out that it’s a famous Australian dessert named after the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova. They are often topped with kiwi fruit, but I thought simple fresh berries sounded perfect. (I’ve also seen many versions that topped it with passion fruit pulp- which sounds kinda amazing.) The options are endless and I know
this one will keep coming back in the warmer months! It’s perfect for a hot weather BBQ or picnic where you want something light and refreshing.
I actually made a couple versions of Pavlova before I got the method down for making it well. (Don’t worry- I ate all the rejected ones too!) Here are some tips that I gathered:
1-If you can find superfine sugar, it’s my favorite type to use, but I’ve had success with granulated sugar or powdered sugar too.
2-Like all egg-white recipes, a drop of yolk or oil in the bowl will ruin it- so be careful separating your eggs.
3-After the Pavlova finishes baking, leave the oven ajar and let it cool right there. The slow cooling process prevents it from collapsing.
4-This dessert is so light that it’s easy to accidentally eat the whole thing (may have happened to me…)
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup superfine sugar*
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ½ tsp corn starch
- 1 cup whipping cream
- mixed berries or other fruit
- Preheat the oven to 275F and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a 7 inch circle with pencil and then flip the parchment over so the pencil side is down. Set aside.
- In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.
- Gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time. Continue to beat the egg whites while adding all the sugar. Your egg whites should now be thick and glossy with stiff peaks. Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.
- Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the parchment to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the center so you have a very small well in the middle.
- Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a pale, pinkish egg shell color. Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.
- Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the parchment and place on a plate. (You can also cover and refrigerate the meringue base until you're ready to serve it.)
- Whip the cream until it forms peaks. Gently spread the cream to the top of the meringue with a spatula and arrange the fruit on top. Slice and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Australian Food