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!

173 Comments

  1. Sally! What in the world were you doing in Wenatchee?! I grew up there (though now I live in Hawaii) and I might be moving back soon so this post totally threw me off!

  2. Hi Sally! I absolutely love all of you recipes, and I can’t wait to try this one! I really love pavlova, and I bet yours will be delicious…. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful recipes!!

  3. Wenatchee is my hometown! I did a double take when I read that! Do you remember where you had it? 

    I love that you’re venture out of standard desserts! This looks delicious. 

    1. Hey Kylie! I was invited to Stemilt orchards. They had private chef cook for a group of us, so it wasn’t at a restaurant or anything. But Wenatchee is beautiful! We all had so much fun.

  4. Pavlova is one of my all-time favourite desserts. I can’t believe it’s not popular in the US, that needs to change! In the UK it’s a classic

    I love how easy it is to make it look pretty – just throw some cream and berries on top and you’re done

    Love it!

  5. I notice that in your photos for this and other recipes you crumple, then smooth out, your parchment paper. Is this just for the aesthetics of photo taking, or is there a more practical reason for doing so?

    1. Hi Cheryl! It’s typically easier to form parchment into a baking pan when it’s crushed first, so that’s typically why I do it. It really doesn’t have to be done here since it’s going on a baking sheet. A habit I suppose!

      1. This small tidbit is a major light-bulb moment for me! I always have such an issue keeping parchment in place on a sheet pan while I prepare whatever is going on to it. This will make life so much easier!

  6. Pavlova is the best! It’s basically a national dish for us Aussies. Speaking of national dishes, Sally, have you ever tried fairy bread? I think you’ll love it! Hehe!

  7. Can’t wait to try this. I tried pavlova for the first time in San Francisco and it was AMAZING. Thanks for sharing this recipe! 

    1. We’re covered in MD, too! I actually made a few pans last week and the pictured pav over the weekend when the sun was shining bright 🙂
      Stay warm!

  8. I fell in love with pavlovas when I was in Australia and New Zealand in 2003. Pavlova is also good with both ice cream and whipped cream with the fruit.  I happen to have some freshly made passion fruit curd. I’m putting that on mine.  Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Lady!! Every time I think I have my Easter desserts planned you whip out a new one! I’ve always wanted to try Pav, and surprise surprise, your detailed instructions are inspiring me to use your recipe and top it with your beyond amazing lemon curd. I just have to decorate it enough so that it doesn’t look like a huge over easy egg! I just cracked myself up with that one! Or I’m getting cabin fever from this dang storm. Hope you’re enjoying all the snow, gotta love PA this year huh?

    1. We’re covered under 5-6 inches of snow so far and there’s no signs of it letting up. Happy spring, right? 😉
      Let me know if you end up trying the pavlova… even if it ends up looking like a fried egg!

    2. Hi, Angela! May I suggest folding the lemon curd into whipped cream? This is how I’ve made it in the past. It helps to cut the tartness of the curd and then you have a more swirled and less egg-like appearance. Add some fresh berries and you’ll have a showstopper!!

  10. Thanks for trying the classic AUSTRALIAN dessert (I know there’s some contention between us at the kiwis, but I’m claiming it as Australian!). We grew up having pavlova for main celebrations and I never realized how easy it is to make until a few years ago. I usually use tapioca starch instead of corn starch, to make it grain free as well.

    But it’s so very yummy!

  11. I can’t wait to try this Sally! Looks delicious and so light! I moved to WA 2.5 years ago and visited Wenatchee a little over a year ago, so cool you were there! You’ll have to see Leavenworth if you visit again, a little German town nearby

  12. I want to try this for our dinner club! I have never made lemon curd and just wonder if you use this on top of the whip cream or in place of it? (Fruit on top?)

    1. I use both whipped cream AND lemon curd. Traditional pavlova, from what I’ve learned, is served with whipped cream. And I think it’s best with whipped cream! So I love using both. 🙂

  13. If I wanted to sub the sugar for a sweetener would it work? Zing has stevia and cane sugar? Would any other sweetener work? I am trying to find low gluten and low sugar baking ideas.

  14. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good pav, it was always one of the desserts that my grandmother would plate up at Christmas; a big thick 10-15cm high meringue smothered in vanilla cream, piled with strawberries, kiwi, and banana, passionfruit pulp splashed across the top and dripping down the sides. The Pav is the quintessential Aussie party cake, it’s always welcome, it’s always eaten, and it’s practically healthy it’s a pity my oven is broken, I’d be making one this week!

  15. I love making and eating pavlova!! I made one for the first time a couple of years ago. My favorite topping is to use the egg yolks to make lemon curd and to mix that with the whipped cream. Add some fresh berries and you have a showstopper!! Also, you HAVE to try chocolate pavlova – it’s unbelievably good!!

  16. Hi Sally, 

    I foubd you looking for chocolate cupcakes (death by chocolate) and ever since I had follow you and yout recipes. This one in particular makes me happy because I have done it several times and the empathy I felt while reading you was amazing. I thank you a lot for everythibg you have done, at the end, food makes everyone happy, but the chef is the happies of them all!!!

  17. Hi Sally!
    This pavlova looks insanely beautiful and delicious! I’ve heard of it, but have never eaten it and it’s never been on my list of things I’ve wanted to bake, but that has to change! Today, however, I’m holed up because of this storm and am baking your crispy edged chocolate chip cookies, the best cookies on the planet. My son has a bake sale at school tomorrow if school will actually open. Happy spring indeed!

  18. Whenever my friend would visit her family in Australia, I used to beg her to bring me home some canned passionfruit, just so I could top my Pavlova the way they do in Australia! She no longer visits that part of the world, so I have to resort to making my own passionfruit topping (fresh passionfruit and simple syrup). Pavlova is my FAVORITE dessert — it looks as though you’ve slaved all day, yet couldn’t be more simple to make. I am going to try your version, Sally! Thanks for shining a light on this awesome, underrated dessert!

    1. I’ve yet to try it with passionfruit topping! I know I must be missing out. That’s how I’ll try it next time.

  19. Beautiful! Do you recommend baking in convection or without? My oven has both options, and was wondering which would be preferable. Thanks!

  20. I have never heard of pavlova, but dang it looks amazing, I love all the different flavors and textures, that you for sharing this new dessert with us Sally!

  21. Hi Sally!

    I am excited to try this!! It is so pretty.

    Do you see any issues with using egg whites in a carton as long as they are room temp?

    1. Hi Desiree! I don’t see any problems using room temperature carton egg whites. Let me know how the pavlova turns out!

      1. Hi Sally! For some reason, every time I use egg whites from a carton, I can NEVER get stiff peaks to form. I have no idea if it’s the brand I buy or what. The only ingredient listed is egg whites, but I’ve tried a bunch of times, and always have to start over with fresh eggs. I’d be interested to know if anyone has had success using egg whites from a carton. 

  22. I love Pavlova! It totally reminds me of summertime too when we can pile fresh berries on it! We use a recipe that calls it “Berries On A Cloud” but it also has mini marshmallows mixed in with the whipped cream. 🙂 I love how you display yours-beautiful.

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