Light, marshmallowy Pavlova filled with homemade whipped cream and topped with fresh berries is a beautiful dessert perfect for Christmas.
Pavlova in any way, shape or form is a showstopper. And I have yet to find a single person who doesn’t love its marshmallowy, chewy texture topped with clouds of whipped cream and fresh fruit. It’s just a beauty. And also pretty much always on my Christmas menu in this form. Making a wreath out of the meringue is not tricky and gives you the most beautiful end result, especially topped with red berries and fresh mint. So festive!
What is Pavlova?
Pavlova is a dessert made with egg white, similar to meringue. It’s different to meringue as it contains corn starch and vinegar to ensure the inside is marshmallowy. It is topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
How to make pavlova
- Egg whites: Whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a pinch of salt. You can use a hand held electric beater too. Whip the egg whites until they are foamy and white.
- Caster sugar: Using caster sugar assures a more stable pavlova. The sugar will also dissolve into the egg whites faster. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated.
- Corn starch and vinegar: Corn starch is often called corn flour in other countries. Make sure to use the very fine, white corn starch/flour. Add corn starch and vinegar to the meringue and continue whisking. The corn starch and vinegar gives a very chewy, marshmallowy texture.
- Baking: Bake in a low oven until the pavlova is crisp and set on the outside and a pale cream color. If the pavlova isn’t crisp yet, even after the time stipulated, turn the heat up slightly and bake for another 30 minutes. This just means that the water isn’t evaporating fast enough and could be due to the oven’s actual temperature. Also keep in mind that baking meringue or pavlova when it’s very humid will likely result in a meringue that weeps. It is still completely safe to eat, it just means the sugar has separated from the egg white.
- Cooling: Allow the pavlova to cool in the oven overnight (make sure to turn the oven off). This will allow the pavlova to cool slowly. Some cracking might still occur but that is not a train smash.
- Decorating and serving: Fill the pavlova with whipped cream and fresh fruit of your choice. Depending on the season you are in this could mean red berries, pomegranate rubies, fresh kiwi fruit, mango or apple compote. Poached pears also work very well.
Making ahead and freezing:
- Make ahead: The pavlova can be made a day in advance and kept in the oven until ready to serve.
- Freezing: I wouldn’t advise freezing but if you do want to, make sure the pavlova is completely cool. Place in an airtight container and freeze. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Christmas dessert recipes
Pavlova Christmas Wreath
- 6 extra-large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- 2 tbsp corn starch / cornflour
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
- 2 cups heavy / whipping cream
- ½ cup sifted powdered / icing sugar
- fresh berries of your choice
- Line a large sheetpan/cookie sheet with parchment paper. Trace a small circle (approximately 10cm) surrounded by a larger circle (20-25cm). Flip the paper over and spray with cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Beat the egg whites and salt together until the egg whites start turning foamy.
- Slowly add the sugar, 1 tablespoon a time.
- Allow the egg whites to whip until it reaches soft peaks.
- Add the corn starch, vinegar and vanilla.
- Continue whipping until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the beaters/whisk is pulled up.
- Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper, using the traced circles as a guide.
- Using a spoon, create a trench in the center of the pavlova for the cream and fruit.
- Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 130°C/265°F and bake for 75-90 minutes until the pavlova is crisp and set on the outside and has turned a light cream color.
- Switch off the oven and allow to cool overnight in the oven.
- When you are ready to serve, whip the cream with the powdered sugar. Top the pavlova with the cream and fresh berries, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.