It’s hard to improve upon traditional pavlova, a dessert that’s popular in Australia and New Zealand. With its craggy base of sweet meringue, billowy whipped cream, and fresh berries, it’s pure perfection. But how about a twist on perfection? That’s exactly what this gingersnap pavlova is all about. It’s a festive variation on a classic dessert that will wow your crowd every time.
This is a terrific dessert for wintry get-togethers, when cranberries are in season. The recipe serves eight, which makes it ideal for holidays and dinner parties. You can also do mini, single-serve pavlovas, which is a fun option for a buffet (see instructions below).
How to Make Pavlova
This seasonal spin on pavlova isn’t a big departure from the original, a dessert inspired by the diaphanous costumes of world-class ballerina Anna Pavlova. You begin by folding crushed gingersnap cookies into sweet meringue, which is simply whipped egg whites and sugar. While the meringue bakes, cook down cranberries with orange zest and just enough sugar to take it from bitter to appealingly tangy. Then, layer the dessert like a typical pavlova: meringue, whipped cream, and fruit. It’s a masterpiece of texture and quite pretty to look at, too.
A Few Tips for Mastering the Homemade Pavlova
Pavlova isn’t particularly complicated to make, but it’s worth knowing a thing or two before you begin.
- The presence of any fat or grease is the enemy of meringue, so start with a very clean bowl and beaters. Also, when it comes time to separate the eggs, don’t let any of the yolks drift into the whites.
- Leave the meringue in the oven to cool after it’s done to prevent it from cracking.
- You can make the meringue and the cranberries a day ahead of time. Wait until the meringue is completely cool and store it in an air-tight container at room temperature. Cover and store the cranberries in the fridge—you may need to add a bit more water the next day.
- Whip the cream and assemble the dessert just before serving. Don’t top the merigue with the whipped cream ahead of time.
Make It Your Way
Like any pavlova, you can tinker with the basic recipe to suit your mood. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make a gluten-free version of the recipe by leaving the gingersnaps out or swapping in gluten-free cookies. Alternatively, add a few tablespoons of finely chopped crystallized ginger to the meringue base.
- Use frozen raspberries in place of the cranberries and scale the sugar down to three tablespoons.
- Make eight mini pavlovas instead of a single big one. To do so, spoon eight mounds of meringue onto the baking sheet and spread them to about three inches in diameter. Adjust the cooking time to about 35 to 40 minutes
- Chop up a few additional gingersnaps to crumble over the top of the finished pavlova.
Gingersnap Pavlova with Cranberries
For the meringue
13 store-bought gingersnaps, like Nabisco
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon distilled white or white wine vinegar
1 cup (200g) sugar
For the toppings
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup (50g) plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2/3 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set it aside.
Chop the gingersnaps:
On a cutting board, use a chef’s knife to chop the gingersnaps into large crumbs, about the size of an almond. Set it aside.
Make the meringue:
Put the egg whites, vinegar, and salt in a large, very clean mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed, continuing until they develop into a mass of tiny, frothy bubbles, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to medium-high and slowly add the 1 cup sugar over the course of about 40 seconds. Turn the mixer to high and continue to beat until the whites are thick and glossy, another 2 minutes or so. You’ll know they are done when you invert the beater and the egg white remains in a sturdy peak.
Fold in the chopped gingersnaps:
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the chopped gingersnaps into the meringue just until evenly mixed in.
Scoop the meringue:
Scoop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to gently swirl the meringue into a disk that’s about 9 inches in diameter. Make a shallow dip in the center that runs about 1 inch shy of the edges. This dip will later hold the whipped cream and cranberries.
Bake the meringue:
Bake the meringue until crispy and dry on the outside, about 1 hour. It will be chewy and marshmallow-like inside. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven to cool for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cook the cranberries:
In a small saucepan, stir together the cranberries, juice and zest of the orange, and 1/4 cup sugar. Set it over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the cranberries break open and the liquid thickens, about 10 minutes. It should look like a chunky syrup and be easily pourable, but not runny. Add more water as needed to reach the right consistency. The cranberries can be served at room temperature or just barely warm.
Just before serving, whip the cream:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-low speed to beat the heavy cream, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and pinch of salt into soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
Assemble and serve the pavlova:
Set the pavlova on a serving plate or platter. Spoon the whipped cream into the shallow dip of the cooled meringue. Spoon the cranberries over the whipped cream, allowing some of the cranberry juice to drip over the edges of the meringue. Cut the pavlova into craggy wedges and serve immediately. Once you add the whipped cream and cranberries on top, it should be eaten right away.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||43%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 36g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||16%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|