Pavlova

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Another fresh and exciting recipe for you this year! 2018: the year we step out of our baking comfort zone.

What is pavlova? Pavlova is a dessert popular in New Zealand and Australia. It’s not as common here in the states, but I hope to help change that! A texture freak’s dream come true, pavlova is made from egg whites that are slowly baked in a relatively cool oven. The egg whites take on a chewy-crisp texture on top, a soft marshmallow texture inside, and a crunchy crisp texture around the edges. That’s three completely different textures in one single bite. The crunchy edges are just like meringue cookies.

Pavlova loves to be dressed up with assorted toppings, mainly fresh whipped cream and piles of fresh fruit. Naturally gluten free, pavlova is light, sweet, and screams warm weather favorite. Happy spring, my friends, we’re making PAVLOVA!!

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I first experienced pavlova back in 2015 on a trip to Wenatchee, a city full of rolling hills and farmlands in Washington state. We visited the Stemilt orchards, home to some of the largest, juiciest cherries. There I tasted it with chunks of fresh mango and plenty of soaked cherries. After the trip, a reader emailed me her family favorite pavlova recipe. And 2 and 1/2 years later, I finally tried it myself.

To obtain the unique pavlova texture, you must adhere to an exact recipe. While it’s fun to play around with ingredients, pavlova is not the time to stray from what’s listed. It’s picky, but picky doesn’t mean difficult. In fact, you only need 5 ingredients to make pavlova and I bet you have each in your kitchen right now:

  • egg whites
  • sugar
  • an acid such as cream of tartar or vinegar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla extract

Let me explain why these ingredients are used.

THE PURPOSE OF EACH

  1. Egg whites – beaten into stiff peaks, egg whites are the base and volume of pavlova.
  2. Sugar – in addition to sweetening the dessert, sugar stabilizes the egg whites by holding them together both in the oven and as the whole pavlova cools. Without sugar, the protein molecules (science!) in egg whites will collapse. Additionally, sugar helps achieve the delightfully crisp texture. (Sugar is so much more than a sweetener in our baked goods. I find this article interesting and you will too!) Speaking of sugar, make sure that you use superfine or castor sugar. Just pulse sugar a few times in a food processor to reduce the size of the crystals.
  3. Acid – you can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon white, apple cider vinegar, or even lemon juice. The pavlova will NOT taste like vinegar, I promise. The acid helps the egg whites hold onto air and, like the sugar, helps prevent the egg whites from collapsing. I tested with both and I actually prefer cream of tartar. I found that my pavlova spread a bit more when I used liquid acid.
  4. Cornstarch – I tested pav with and without cornstarch. I found that the center was fluffier and more marshmallow-y with cornstarch. Then I tested with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. I found it was a little chalky tasting with 2 teaspoons. I’m sticking to 1 teaspoon.
  5. Vanilla extract – purely for flavor!

(Not sponsored by any of these companies, but here’s exactly what I use.)

Ingredients for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients are simple and method is effortless. There’s plenty of downtime when making pavlova. All you really have to do is watch it beat in your stand mixer then check on it in your oven. Kick your feet up!

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Just like the meringue on top of our lemon meringue pie, whip the egg whites into super stiff peaks. Stiff enough that you can hold the whisk over your head and feel confident that the whipped egg whites won’t drop. 😉 Then you’ll spread the pavlova mixture onto your lined baking pan. You can use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Do not grease the baking pan– use a nonstick surface instead. Spread it into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter. You can eyeball it or trace one with a pencil. I just eyeball it. Like I did in the lemon meringue pie video, use the back of a spoon to create decorative peaks. Make sure the edges are tall and you have a nice dip in the center. That’s were we’ll pile our whipped cream and fruit!

Alternatively, you can make mini pavlovas. Here I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn’t necessary– you can just spoon it on. Again, make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings.

How to make mini pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

A relatively cooler oven is imperative for properly cooking your pavlova, but let’s start the pavlova at 350°F (177°C) then reduce it down to 200°F (93°C). I do this to help “set” the outer crust quickly. This trick helps reduce spread.

A properly cooked pav is pale in color. Cracks and bumps are par for the course, but the pavlova shouldn’t completely deflate. Especially if you follow the precise measurements and instructions in the recipe. You can help avoid too many cracks by cooling the pavlova in the oven. The sudden change of temperature (inside the oven to outside the oven) shocks the pavlova, so it’s best to cool inside the cooling oven.

Make sense?

How to make pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Toppings for pavlova on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You can top your pavlova or mini pavlovas any which way, but here are some of my topping suggestions:

No need to get artistic, just pile it all on top into a massive pavlova mountain.

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Things are bound to get a little messy when slicing, but if you cooked the pavlova long enough so that the bottom is crisp and the edges are set, it will hold a pie slice shape. This big thing serves about 8-10 people!

If you’re still on the fence about trying pavlova, might I remind you that the center tastes like marshmallows. ♥ ♥ ♥

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Have fun!

Print

Pavlova

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: New Zealand

Description

Pavlova is crisp on the edges, chewy on top, and marshmallow soft and creamy in the centers. Pile high with lemon curd, whipped cream, and fresh fruit to make a naturally delicious gluten free dessert!


Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites (use the yolks for lemon curd!)*
  • 1 cup (200g) superfine sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Toppings


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Preliminary note: you will quickly reduce the oven to 200°F (93°C) in step 4.)
  2. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 30 seconds between, then continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form, about 2 more minutes. The peaks should be stiff enough that you can hold the whisk upright and the peaks won’t move. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 1 more minute. The peaks should still be very stiff. If not, keep on mixing on high speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cream of tartar and cornstarch.
  3. Spread the pavlova mixture into an 8-9-inch circle (see note for mini size). You can make decorative peaks with the back of a large spoon if desired. Make sure the edges are relatively tall and there is a nice dip in the center.
  4. Place pavlova in the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce heat to 200°F (93°C). The pavlova will stay in the oven as it cools down to 200°F (93°C). Bake until the pavlova is firm and dry, about 90 minutes total. Rotate the baking sheet if you notice some spots browning. Try to limit how many times you open the oven as the cool air will interrupt the baking.
  5. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool inside the oven. Once the pavlova is cool, you can store it covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or serve right away.
  6. Once cool, top the pavlova with whipped cream and assorted toppings. Slice and serve.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: See step 5 for making the pavlova in advance. Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it’s garnished. It doesn’t freeze well.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Baking Sheet | Marble Cake Stand
  3. Egg Whites: (1) Room temperature egg whites whip faster than cold egg whites. And (2) room temperature egg whites whip into a greater volume than cold egg whites. So make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.
  4. Sugar: Superfine sugar dissolves easier into egg whites. To avoid tasting sugar granules, pulse 1 cup granulated sugar a few times in a food processor. You now have superfine sugar to use in the recipe.
  5. Acid: You can use 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
  6. Mini Pavlovas: Divide pavlova mixture up into individual portions instead of spreading into one large 8-9-inch circle. In the photos, I piped the mixture into 6 mini pavlovas using Ateco 849. A piping tip isn’t necessary– you can just spoon it on. Make sure you leave a dip in the center to hold the toppings. Bake time depends on size, see step 4 for what to look for. If making 6 mini pavlovas like I did, bake for 35-40 minutes at 200°F (93°C). Start them in a 350°F (177°C) oven, like I do in this written recipe.
  7. Pavlova base from reader Laurel. Thanks Laurel!

158 Comments

  1. Hi Sally. I’ve baked many Pavlova’s since finding another recipe about two years ago with much success (I love the lemon curd/whipped cream and fresh berries combo too but instead of laying one layer down on top of the other I mix the curd and cream together) BUT when I went looking for a recipe to make minis, that’s where the trouble came into place. Instead of having the marshmallow-y texture in the inside, they were blocks of harden sugar. Ugh! I just came across yours today and I really want to give it a try but I’m worried about the same thing happening. So my question is…. does your minis truly have that marshmallow center? I’ve attempted to make the minis three times from three different recipes only to end up with the same result so I’m sure you can understand my hesitation….

    1. Hi Tammie, I understand! Yes, they really do 🙂 There is a much shorter baking time for the minis so that they don’t dry out – see the recipe note!

      1. Thanks for replying so quickly! I’m going to go for it. If… no, WHEN they come out my LG family will be thrilled. The first time I took a Pavlova to a family event, not all were able to have a slice. I’ll be sure to let you know how amazing they come out…

        Thanks again for all of your recipes. Two days ago I made your angel food cupcakes for the second time and your recipe for the strawberry filling (also made it with blueberries)… they were delicious. Hubby wants to use the filling on pancakes/waffles, lol. I’ll make sure to leave a review on that recipe. Have a great and safe weekend…

    2. If your meringues come out too hard, break them up and make something like an Eton Mess. It’s broken meringues, cream and fruit. Hmmm, sort of like a fast train hit a Pavlova and someone scooped everything into a bowl. 😉 I’m sure this recipe will give you good results, but leftover/not perfect meringues are still useful.

  2. SO GOOD!! And super easy! When it was done, I shut the oven off and left it in there for about another hour. It tasted as good as it looked 🙂

      1. Hi Sally,
        I have organic liquid egg whites that are frozen, do you think they would work once they are at room Temp?
        Have you tried organic liquid egg whites before?
        thx
        Paul

    1. Pavlova is a type of meringue but it’s made with cornstarch and the center is marshmallow-like in taste and texture.

  3. I made the 9 inch version and the outside was perfect but the middle was wet and parts were liquid. Should I have cooked it longer?

    Thanks!
    p.s. I’m trying the mini version right now as I type. Hopefully they turn out!

  4. Hi, Wondering how much whipped cream is enough to satisfy the heaping lovliness.
    I don’t want too much (I know how can there be such a thing as too much whipped cream) but I don’t want to little either. Wondering how much cream to whip to get the right effect on the Pavlova this size. Approx how much fruit works here? 1 cup 2 cups, just want it to be lush, but I really try not to waste food. THANKS!

    1. What great questions, Sarah! 1 heaping cup of fruit is plenty. I usually top it with 2 cups of whipped cream, too! I find that’s the perfect amount.

  5. I’m taking mine out right now and putting the whipped cream and fruit. Is it supposed to go in the fridge after or stay out?

    1. This recipe is written for conventional ovens. If using convection/fan-forced, I recommend lowering the oven temperature by 25°F.

  6. Looking to reduce the amount of sugar and still have the recipe work. What’s the “minimum” amount of Baker’s Sugar you think I can use?

    1. Hi Alison! I don’t recommend reducing the sugar as that would not only affect the taste (which I understand is what you want!), it would hinder how the pavlova sets up.

  7. Me again. Have you ever flavored it with lemon extract or almond extract rather than vanilla? If so, how much? They may not be equal substitutes.

    1. I have, yes! I usually use 1/2 teaspoon of other flavor extracts as they are typically more potent than vanilla. 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract is fantastic in this pavlova.

  8. Thanks Sally!
    This was AMAZING! I’d never even heard of a Pavlova until I asked a co-worker what her favorite dessert was (so I could make it for her for her last day at work with us). Your recipe and tips were so easy to follow. Once I put it in the oven and dropped the temp, I treated it like a cheesecake, just left it alone and let the magic happen, which is always the hardest part! I can’t wait to make it again!

    Wish there was a way to add my Pavlova picture for you.

    1. Hi Celeste! Do not use powdered sugar. Superfine sugar is necessary. See my recipe note about pulsing granulated sugar into the correct consistency to make superfine sugar.

  9. Hi! I see the questions about potato starch, but am curious if just omitting corn starch is an option? My dad has a corn allergy, and I don’t want him to be starting longingly while the rest of us enjoy our dessert.

    1. Hi Justin! You can try the pavlova without cornstarch, however, cornstarch produces a fluffy, chewy meringue. Without it, the meringue won’t have the same marshmallow-y center. Let me know if you try it.

  10. Fabulous recipe! I’ve made Pavlova before but it never had quite the right consistency, this recipe does. Plus the use of the yolks to make lemon curd is brilliant. Thank you so much for this recipe, I’m hooked!

  11. Have you made the pavlova with coconut cream. I was trying a dairy free recipe using the coconut cream but I could not get the cream think enough. It was fairly runny and caused the layers to slide. I put it in the freezer to hold it until right before serving. It was still a little frozen, but still good.. Any ideas how to thicken the cream?

  12. Crowd pleasers! Mine looked gorgeous & tasted fantastic- everyone loved it. However, it did not come out as marshmallow-y as yours looks. It had a lovely hard meringue shell, didn’t deflate, but when cut into cracked & seemed hallow- more air than than mallow. There were areas of marshmallow texture but not thick. So what did I do wrong or can do different? I followed you steps meticulously- even put my natural sugar though the food processor. Could it be that? Was it still too course & I should just stick to fine bakers sugar? I don’t think I over cooked it because I only had it in the oven for 80mins before turning it off to fully cool, and reduce the temp immediately. It still tasted wonderful & look great… but not in the middle. Would love to master the mallow. Suggestions?

    1. Hi Precilia! It’s from Crate & Barrel. I link to it in the recipe notes. It’s even more beautiful in real life!

  13. I’m looking forward to making this! Just waiting on fresh local fruits (so tired of bitter and tasteless and very expensive) fruit. My question for you..does it matter if the whipped cream goes on before or after lemon curd?

    1. Doesn’t matter at all! Top the pavlova however you’d like. Let me know how you like it and which fruits you end up using. 🙂

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