Summer Pavlova Recipe: This Meringue & Fruit Dessert Is Easier Than You Think by Ann Marie Patitucci
I was introduced to pavlova cake recently and became intrigued. It seems that the meringue dessert has been rumored to have Russian origins. However, from what I’ve read, it looks like the cake isn’t Russian, but rather was named for a Russian dancer, a ballerina named Anna Pavlova. As the story goes, the name pavlova honors the Russian ballerina’s fluffy tutus. There’s a debate about where it was first made, but Russian doesn’t seem to be a contender. Both Australia and New Zealand fight for ownership of the pretty and delicious dessert. Clearly this must be some special dessert to have countries battling over it!
However, more current research, by New Zealander Dr. Andrew Paul Wood and Australian Annabelle Utrecht, “suggests that the true pavlova has roots in Germany and America.” Following two years of researching old recipes, Utrecht and Wood “found somewhere over 150 recipes for meringue-based cakes that look an awful lot like pavlova, all published before Anna Pavlova even arrived down under in 1926!” What a fascinating origin story!
When I first saw the meringue dessert (and mini versions like this fruit recipe), I thought it looked almost too pretty to eat! I also presumed it was beyond my abilities. But as it turns out, it’s much easier than it seems. I learned some tips for making pavlova, and you can read them below in Recipe Notes. Serve this summer dessert and impress your friends and family!
Cuisine: European / American
Prep Time: 15 minutes plus time to cool
Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours plus cool time
Cake and Topping
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 - 5 cups fresh fruit
- mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- I don’t recommend substituting the cornstarch. The cornstarch is crucial in the forming of the crisp exterior and the marshmallow-y interior of the pavlova.
- While I prefer a topping of berries and mint leaves, there are many other options to consider: slices of peaches, nectarines, oranges, kiwi, mango and more. You can easily customize the topping to your preferences.
Here’s how to make it:
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer (or handheld), beat 6 egg whites on high speed for 1 minute until soft peaks form. While the mixer is still on, gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat 10 minutes on high speed or until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be smooth.
- Working quickly, use a spatula to fold in 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract. Fold in 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Mix together until well blended.
- Pipe the meringue, forming “nests” 3- to 3 1/2-inches wide onto the parchment paper (ideally using a cake decorating tip). Indent the center of each nest with a spoon to make room for the cream. Bake in a preheated 225-degree F oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, and then turn oven off. Without opening oven door, let meringue sit in the hot oven for an additional 30 minutes. The exteriors should be cream in color, dry and crisp, while interiors should be marshmallow-y soft.
- Transfer the pavlova (with the parchment paper) onto a cookie rack or your counter. Allow the mini desserts to cool to room temperature.
- While they cool, make the whipped topping: Beat cold whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar in a cold bowl for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until well whipped and easily to work with.
- Once pavlovas are cool, top them with whipped cream and the fruit of your choice.
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