Pavlova

Learn how to make Pavlova - the egg white meringue dessert named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Served with raspberry sauce.

Pavlova
Elise Bauer

It's no coincidence the late Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, for whom the Pavlova dessert was named, is said to have been ethereal, delicate, and slightly controversial. Her namesake, this simple confection, is a straightforward enough list of ingredients, but the end result is all about touch, finesse.

It has attracted more than its fair share of controversy. Two distinct neighboring countries take credit for invention and creation.

For sake of staying neutral, we will say both New Zealand and Australia are to blame for the delicious Pavlova; an edible translation of sugar turned into cumulous clouds, it is one of the best vehicles for seasonal fruit, whipped cream, sorbet, and ice cream.

Whether you hail from Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere, I hope you'll attempt this gorgeous recipe. It's a delightful dessert any time of year.

Pavlova with raspberry sauce
Elise Bauer

How To Make Pavlova: Working With Egg Whites

Sweet, crunchy, and meltingly soft, Pavlova is a reason for understanding the fickle, hard-working, all-purpose egg white.

You create your best egg white-based confections when you know how to treat this important part of the egg. An egg white is pure protein. When room temperature to begin with, egg whites will grow bigger and stronger with whipping.

For this reason, it's best to start whipping egg whites on a lower speed, increasing incrementally as you get to the aspired consistency. I like to say I’m cajoling my egg whites into submission.

To achieve room temperature egg whites, take eggs out the night before you need them, or place in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes to take their chill off.

Make sure all bowls, hands, and utensils touching egg whites are as clean and free of random oils as possible. When separating eggs, crack in half and gently toss the yolk back and forth between the eggshell halves, dripping egg white out into a clean container.

If a bit of yolk drops into your pristine whites, fish it out with a clean eggshell. Hint: if a bit of shell gets in, they will sink to the bottom and be easy to spot and hold back when it comes time to use the egg whites.

Not sure what to do with the leftover egg yolks? Most custards like pastry cream or stovetop pudding are egg yolk based.

Recipe adapted from Flo Baker's pavlovas in the San Francisco Chronicle: Fourth of July dessert has roots in Australia

Pavlova

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 60 mins
Total Time 80 mins
Servings 8 to 10 pavlovas

Adding an acid such as cream of tartar (a dry acid) or vinegar will help give the meringue structure. You can use either. If you are using cream of tartar, mix it in with the egg whites from the beginning. If you are using vinegar, add it with the vanilla extract later in the process.

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, or substitute 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature

  • Pinch salt

For the topping:

  • 2 pints fresh or frozen berries

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Whipped cream for topping

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°.

    Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Combine the vanilla and vinegar (if using):

    Pour the vanilla extract and vinegar (if using) into a small cup.

    (If you're using cornstarch instead of vinegar, skip this step.)

  3. Combine the cornstarch and sugar:

    Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.

  4. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar (if using), and salt:

    In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar (if using), and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

    whip egg whites for pavlova
    Elise Bauer
    whip egg whites to soft peaks
    Elise Bauer
  5. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture, vanilla, and whip:

    Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture.

    A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla (or the vanilla/vinegar mixture if you're using vinegar.)

    Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

    add sugar to pavlova meringue in mixer
    Elise Bauer
    whip pavlova meringue to stiff peaks
    Elise Bauer
    whipped pavlova meringue
    Elise Bauer
  6. Pipe the meringues:

    On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner, pipe or spoon the meringue into 8 to 10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.

    spoon meringue onto baking sheet
    Elise Bauer
    pavlova ready to go in the oven
    Elise Bauer
  7. Bake:

    Place baking sheet in the 275°F oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white (not tan-colored or cracked). The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency.

    Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees and turn pan around.

    baked pavlova
    Elise Bauer
    individual pavlova on baking sheet
    Elise Bauer
  8. Cool:

    Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. The meringues will keep in a tightly sealed container or individually wrapped at room temperature for up to a week if your house is not humid.

  9. Serve:

    Top with your favorite filling (lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream) and serve.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling aprt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Additional Links:

Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries here on Simply Recipes

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
135 Calories
0g Fat
31g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 47mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 30g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 59mg 1%
*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.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.