You'll fall in love with this sweet, summery dessert.
A basic meringue at its core, this beautiful pavlova dish hails from New Zealand or Australia, depending on who you believe. The story is that it was created for a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and both countries claim it for their own.
Regardless of its provenance, this is a wonderful dessert to make if you have some fresh fruit and cream. Be careful, though: Humidity can work against you, so be careful to pick a dry day before you get started. You'll need a stand mixer or hand mixer for this recipe. You could do it by hand, but you'd really have to work hard to get the right texture.
Ingredients (for 4 individual servings)
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup caster sugar or white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. corn starch
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
- Whipped Cream
- Fresh fruit
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat, non-stick aluminum foil, or parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. It should look like this before you proceed to the next step:
Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch in with the mixer running, a little at a time, until it is all added. Be sure you still see stiff peaks before you put away the mixer! Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar, being careful not to deflate the volume of the mix.
Instead of using a standard piping kit, carefully cut the corner off of a gallon-sized plastic bag with an M-shaped jagged edge. This will give you a bit of ridging without forcing the meringue through a tiny opening. Pipe the mixture into 3- to 4-inch disks, or create small mounds with a bit of a well in the center (I did it both ways).
Bake the pavlovas for 55 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them cool in the oven for at least two hours. You're aiming for a crisp exterior and a soft, tender center.
Here's the fun part! If you made taller mounds, just top each pavlova with some whipped cream and fresh fruit. If you made disks, snip off any peaks and stack them like a little layer cake. Frost the entire exterior with whipped cream before topping with fruit and berries.
- Don't top these with the whipped cream until you're ready to eat them. The cream softens the pavlovas pretty quickly and they'll soon be a squishy, soft mound of yumminess.
- If you bake extra layers, set them on a piece of parchment paper and freeze them in an air-tight container. Reheat in a low oven to crisp up again before assembling.
- Caster sugar is just fine grain white sugar. If you can't find it, pulse some granulated sugar in a food processer so that it dissolves easier in the meringue.
- In New Zealand, you can get huge pavlovas, just like we buy angel food cakes here. If you attempt a larger version, I'd still do it in layers because pavlovas tend to spread if you make them too tall or big. Play around with the recipe, but make sure the layers bake and dry out properly.
- Fresh passion fruit is a traditional addition to the New Zealand version of this elegant dessert. Berries, sliced kiwi, figs, and mango all make exccellent toppings as well.
**The photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly
Have you ever made a pavlova? What are some of your favorite toppings? Let us know in the comments!