This is one of my favourite hi-low desserts – high impact, low effort. Pavlovas are easy to scale up for a crowd, and a guaranteed showstopper at your next dinner party. Perfect for younger cooks, this is a great recipe to share with your children, who will be really proud when their efforts create such an impressive and delicious dessert. I recently made one for my youngest’s birthday, so I thought I’d share my tips.
A pavlova is basically a layer of meringue, topped with whipped cream and fruit. The meringue base is usually cooked so that it is crisp on the outside with a soft, marshmallowy center. Lightly sweetened whipped cream, fresh fruit and a tart sauce make every mouthful heavenly.
For this dessert, I used the meringue recipe from Martha Stewart’s Orange Cream Pavlova. It’s simple, just egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar. Many recipes call for caster sugar or superfine sugar, but I have always used regular sugar with my meringue and have never been disappointed. I have often cooked the meringue until it’s dry and crispy all the way through, and that tastes great too. Really this is a dessert where you almost can’t go wrong.
One important touch with this pavlova is to incorporate some tartness to help balance the sweetness of the meringue and whipped cream. It elevates the whole taste experience. I do this by macerating the strawberries in a little lemon juice and sugar so that the juices release to make a beautiful syrup. I have been using this technique whenever I use strawberries in a dessert for years – over ice cream, crème fraîche, or in a strawberry shortcake. It makes fresh strawberries even more delicious, and I think it improves on the pavlova recipes that just call for fresh fruit. Over at Smitten Kitchen, their Mixed Berry Pavlova (based on a recipe by Ina Garten) incorporates a raspberry sauce to add tartness, but I think this method is even easier. For an adult crowd, you could also add a touch of orange liqueur.
Here are all the ingredients you need for this simple dessert, plus fresh whipped cream.
Start by tracing a 10 inch circle on the back of a piece of parchment paper.
Whip your egg whites with a little cream of tartar, adding sugar after soft peaks begin to form.
Keep beating until the egg whites are very stiff and glossy. This is what they will look like.
Spread the meringue out on the parchment circle, making a slight well in the center.
Bake it at 200 degrees for about 2 hours, and then let it cool in the over for 5 hours or overnight. I took a shortcut here and only let it cool for about 2 hours, and it was fine.
While the meringue is baking, prepare the macerated strawberries. Hull and quarter strawberries, add sugar and lemon juice, and refrigerate. I also add a small amount of water just to increase the amount of syrup. You can see the juice start to form almost immediately.
After an hour or so, they will look like this.
When the meringue is baked, it will have a dry exterior and a soft, marshmallowy center.
Top with whipped cream…
…then strawberries. Pour all the delicious syrup on top, or reserve some for topping individual servings like I did.
Meringue taken from Orange Cream Pavlova recipe by Martha Stewart
5 large egg whites, room temperature
Cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 lbs strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
¼ c water
Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Trace a 10-inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper. Turn over and use parchment to line a baking sheet. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream and continue to beat on high until whites are very stiff and glossy and sugar is dissolved, 5 minutes.
With an offset spatula, gently shape meringue into a round on parchment-lined sheet, using circle as a guide; smooth top (make center slightly concave). Bake meringue until outside is dry, 2 hours. Turn off oven and let meringue cool completely in oven, about 5 hours (or up to overnight). Meringue can be made ahead at stored in an airtight container in cool dry place for up to two days.
Hull and quarter strawberries and place in a medium bowl. Add lemon and sugar to taste. Make sure not to over sweeten – a little tartness adds a nice touch. Add water and refrigerate.
Beat cream in a large bowl until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until cream forms firm peaks. Be careful not to overbeat.
Spread whipped cream onto meringue disk and top with strawberries. Reserve some syrup to serve with individual portions if desired. Serve immediately since meringue will begin to soften once assembled.