Make this gorgeous, light Pavlova Dessert! The perfect dessert for summer, or to impress guests! Top with lemon curd, vanilla pudding, or whipped cream and fruit. The possibilities are endless!
Pavlova is one of those fancy, mysterious desserts that people think is difficult to make. But it’s actually quite easy! There are just a few important steps to take and things to keep in mind as you make it.
What is Pavlova, and where was the Pavolova Dessert invented?
The Pavolova Dessert was invented in Australia after a visit of the famous Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova. (Perhaps because her dancing was so light and fluffy? Or maybe the dessert mimics her frothy ballet skirt? I’m just speculating here).
The dessert is popular around Christmas time in Autralia (which is in the summer for them) and is a meringue/marshmallow mix, made with egg whites, sugar, and a wee bit of cornstarch and white vinegar.
It’s crispy on the outside, and delightfully soft on the inside. The texture is just so pleasing and fun to eat!
It’s also gluten free and dairy free (unless you top it with items that contain gluten or dairy).
How to make Pavlova Dessert
I have step-by-step instructions for you! Just follow along and you’ll get great results!
First, you’ll need to gather your ingredients:
Ingredients for Pavlova Dessert
- 4-5 egg whites (It’s best to measure these by volume. You’ll want 150 ml, or about 2/3 cup)
- 3/4 cup caster sugar (This is a type of fine sugar often used in Australia and other countries. Its granules are smaller than our typical granulated sugar that we use in the U.S. But no need to search for it in the stores. I’ll show you how to make it easily at home!)
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, sifted
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
The first thing you want to do is separate your egg whites from your yolks. It’s easiest to do this while your eggs are cold. Simply crack each egg and pour the contents back and forth from each shell half, letting the white fall into a bowl below. Or you can pour the egg into your hand and let the egg white slip between your fingers.
It’s very important that you don’t get ANY yolk in the egg whites. Otherwise, this recipe will not work.
Set the egg whites aside to come to room temperature, as they’ll whip up better if they aren’t cold.
If you don’t have caster sugar, you’ll need to make some. All you do is put your sugar into a blender or food processor and pulse it several times until the sugar becomes more fine. You don’t want it to turn into powdered sugar, so don’t blend it TOO much. It should look like the picture below:
Turn on your oven to 340 degrees F.
It’s time to whip the egg whites! You’ll need to use a stand mixer or large bowl that is completely dry and grease-free. Whip the egg whites on high speed using your stand mixer or hand mixer until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat as you go.
After adding all the sugar, continue to beat about another three minutes until the mixture looks thick and glossy.
Mine never got to “stiff peak” consistency. But the best way to tell if it is done is to rub a little between your fingers and see if you can feel any sugar grit. If you can, whip it a bit longer, then test again. It should feel completely smooth when you rub it between your fingers.
Add the sifted cornstarch and vinegar and beat for a few seconds–just until they get mixed in.
Prepare your pan. It’s best to bake this on the back of a round pizza pan. If you don’t have a round pan, draw a circle on a piece of parchment paper the size you want your Pavlova to be, and then cut it out.
Place some small dabs of the meringue on your pan, just to hold your parchment paper in place.
Press the parchment paper on top.
Shape your Pavlova. Spoon the fluff onto the parchment paper and form a circle.
Now I know everyone will want to make a super tall Pavlova, but it’s better to make one no taller than two inches. Otherwise, you’ll have major cracking and sinking. (You’ll have cracking and sinking anyway. There’s really no way around it with this dessert, but the shorter it is, the less issues you will have.
Now if you want to make things a little fancy, you can take a knife or offset spatula and make upstrokes on the sides all around the Pavlova. But don’t take too long here. You want to get this into the oven as soon as possible.
Now it’s time to bake. You gently place the Pavlova into your 340-degree F. oven, and gently close the oven door. Don’t slam the oven door, or your Pavlova will deflate!
As soon as you close the oven door, turn the temperature down to 240 degrees F.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN TO PEEK! If you have an oven light, you can turn it on, but if you open the oven door, again, your Pavlova will deflate.
Once the baking time is up, STILL DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! Turn off the oven and allow your Pavlova to cool down slowly for several hours. I recommend four hours at minimum. Eight hours, or even overnight is better.
Expect that there will be some sinking and cracks. But you can cover a lot of those issues up with your toppings.
Gently slide a long knife under the Pavlova (between the Pavlova and the parchment paper) to loosen it from the parchment.
Carefully place it on your serving platter.
Right before you plan on serving is the time to add the toppings. Don’t add them beforehand and refrigerate, or your Pavlova will lose its crispy exterior.
Traditionally, whipped cream and berries are used, though you could also add a layer of lemon curd, or basically any other pudding flavor.
I added some instant Vanilla Pudding.
Next I added some whipped cream.
Then I added the berries!
In the past, I bucked tradition and made a tropical Pavlova topped with mandarin oranges, pineapple, bananas, and shredded coconut!
The Pavlova is such a lovely canvas to let your imagination run wild! I’d love to do one with chocolate mousse and white chocolate curls on top with a sprinkling of toffee bits and pecans! Yum!
This recipe adapted from the Pavlova recipe on Recipe Tin Eats. She has a great video on her post, so if you feel you need a little extra help making this, be sure to check it out!
- 5 oz. egg whites (150 ml, or about 4-5 egg whites, or 2/3 cup)
- 3/4 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar--see post to see how to make your own)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, sifted
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Separate egg whites and allow to come to room temperature.
- Turn on your oven to 340 degrees F.
- Put the egg whites into the large bowl of your stand mixer, or another large bowl if you plan to use a hand mixer.
- Mix on high speed until soft peaks form.
- Continue beating, adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time. (You can add it pretty quickly, one spoonful after the other).
- After all the sugar is added, keep beating for about another three minutes. Stop and rub a little of the mixture between your finger and thumb. If the mixture feels smooth, you can stop beating. If you feel a little bit of grainy sugar, keep beating and then test again in a minute or so. Stop beating once the mixture doesn't feel gritty or grainy at all.
- At this point, the mixture should be thick and glossy.
- Add the 1 Tablespoon of corn starch and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Beat just for a few seconds, until all the ingredients are mixed together.
- Attach parchment paper to the bottom of an overturned pizza pan or cookie sheet. (Use little dabs of the mixture to affix the parchment paper to the pan).
- Spoon the meringue mixture on top of the parchment paper. Form into a circle (about 8-inches or 10-inches in diameter). Make the Pavlova no more than two inches tall. (This will help reduce sinking and cracking).
- Carefully place the Pavlova in the oven, and carefully close the oven door.
- Immediately turn down the heat in the oven to 240 degrees F.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours, making sure not to open the oven door.
- After 1 1/2 hours, turn the oven off, but leave the Pavlova in the oven for at least four hours. Do not open the oven door at all during this time. (Leaving it eight hours or even overnight is even better).
- When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and fruit, and/or lemon curd/pudding, etc.
1. To make your own caster sugar, just add regular granulated sugar to a blender or food processor and pulse several times until the sugar granules become fine.
2. The recipe this one is adapted from calls for 1 cup of sugar. I thought it was too sweet for my taste, so I reduced the amount to 3/4 cup. However, you can use a full cup if you prefer.
3. Resist the temptation to make a tall Pavlova. It will sink and crack more. Expect some cracking and sinking, no matter the size of your Pavlova.
4. Nutritional information is only for the Pavlova and does not take into account any toppings.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 30mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 2g