Made with egg whites, sugar, and heavy whipping cream, Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp outside and marshmallow soft inside. Topped with fresh fruit, sweetened whipped cream, and heavy cream, it’s a light dessert perfect for spring. Follow the tips below for the perfect pavlova every time!
A Pavlova Recipe Made Easy
Like creme brulee, pavlova is a dessert that often gets a rep for being difficult to make. The truth is, it’s not necessarily difficult, it just requires time and patience to in order to get it right. There is a lot of hands-on time whipping and mixing the ingredients slowly to achieve the perfect texture. However, once you get the process down, it becomes easier each time!
If you’ve never made pavlova before, today’s easy pavlova recipe will walk you through it step by step. It’s a very similar process to making meringue and actually begins with the same steps, so if you’ve already mastered meringue you’ll have no trouble at all with pavlova. But, don’t worry – if you’ve never made meringue these step-by-step instructions and tips below will walk you through everything you need to know for the perfect pavlova the first time.
The most important thing when making pavlova is to give yourself plenty of time. This is not a quick dessert to make – the hands-on mixing takes about an hour, followed by an hour and a half in the oven, and 6 hours cooling. If you can make this a day in advance, I recommend doing so. Just save the decorating for just before serving and you’ll be good to go.
What You’ll Need
Pavlova requires just a few ingredients to make. I do recommend measuring the egg whites and sugar by weight to ensure that you have exactly the right amount.
- Egg whites – The most important ingredient in pavlova. Egg whites give this dessert it’s texture and volume. You’ll need approximately 6 large egg whites.
- Superfine sugar – This is also known as baker’s sugar or caster sugar. If you can’t find it, you can use regular granulated sugar but just be aware that it will take more time to dissolve.
- Heavy whipping cream – You’ll want extra for serving as well.
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners sugar, it gets whipped with the heavy cream to make a sweet whipped topping.
- Vanilla extract – Adds both flavor and aroma to the whipped cream topping.
- Fruit toppings and decorations – Fresh fruit and edible flowers give pavlova a beautiful presentation.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- stand mixer with whisk attachment
- measuring spoons
- kitchen scale
- baking sheet
- rubber spatula
- icing spatula
- balloon whisk
- parchment paper
How to Make Pavlova
The key to making the perfect pavlova is to take your time and be patient. Each step can take a while, from whipping the egg whites to slowly adding the sugar, and you don’t want to rush the process.
- Prepare the mixing bowl. Rub the entire surface of your mixing bowl and beaters with a towel dipped in white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or the the cut edge of a juicy lemon. This removes any grease and adds acid to the meringue mixture to help stabilize the egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites. Using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on low until soft peaks form.
- Add the superfine sugar. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, allowing it to the dissolve completely before adding more. When all sugar has been added, increase the speed and continue whisking until stiff peaks form and you have a very thick and glossy white meringue.
- Shape the meringue into a circle. Draw a circle on parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet. Use little bits of meringue to glue parchment to the corners of the baking tray. Pile the pavlova mixture in the middle and use a knife to drag up the sides to form the pavlova. Make a well in the center with a spoon.
- Bake. Place the meringue pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the heat to 225ºF. Bake for 1.5 hours then turn off the heat and leave it in the oven with the door slightly ajar for at least 6 hours.
- Decorate and serve. Whisk together the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to form soft peaks. Spread whipped cream over the pavlova then decorate with fresh fruit and edible flowers. Drizzle with more cream if desired.
Tips for Success
Making the perfect pavlova can take time and practice – here are some tips that can help you get it right the first time.
- Seperate the egg whites from the egg yolk when cold, then allow the whites to warm to room temperature for best results.
- How to tell when the egg whites are ready for sugar. The egg whites should be beaten to soft peaks – this means that they when you lift the beaters, the meringue will lift up and softly resettle.
- Don’t rush adding the sugar. It’s important to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, otherwise you can end up with a leaky or cracked meringue. This step will typically take 15 to 20 minutes.
- How to tell when the meringue is ready. The whisking of the meringue is a lengthy process but if you rush it, the meringue might fail. Once all of the sugar has been added, it may take an additional 20 minutes or more to achieve the thick, glossy mixture. To check if it’s done, rub a small amount between your thumb and forefinger. If it’s smooth, then the meringue is ready but if you feel grains of sugar, keep mixing.
- Don’t open the oven door. Once the pavlova is placed in the oven, avoid the temptation to open the door. Allow it to bake completely, then crack the oven door while it cools.
- Allow it to cool in the oven. Allowing the baked pavlova to sit in the oven lets it dry out completely and will prevent cracking.
Easy Pavlova Recipe Variations
When making a pavlova, you really don’t want to stray too far from the recipe. The amounts of sugar and egg whites are carefully balanced to create the structure of the dessert and straying from these amounts will cause your pavlova to fail. However, you can get creating with your toppings! Here are a couple of my favorite variations.
- Make a cherry chocolate pavlova. Add cocoa powder to the whipped cream, then decorate with sliced cherries and chocolate shavings or chocolate chips.
- Strawberry pavlova with lemon curd is one of my personal favorites. Before adding the whipped cream layer, add a layer of lemon curd to the pavlova. Then decorate with a combination of fresh sliced strawberries and strawberries that have been macerated in a bit of lemon juice and sugar.
Pavlova is typically served with a freshly made whipped cream topping and piled high with fresh fruit. For this recipe, I added powdered sugar and vanilla to the whipped cream topping for extra flavor and a bit of sweetness.
I decorated mine with an assortment of fresh berries, kiwi slices, figs, and edible flowers but you can use whichever fruits are in season. You can also top it with a drizzle of heavy cream if desired. Once decorated, enjoy the pavlova immediately as it will soften.
If you want a complimentary cocktail for this uniquely romantic dessert, try a Raspberry Mojito.
How to Store Leftovers
An undecorated pavlova will stay fresh in an airtight container for a couple of weeks at room temperature. However, once it is decorated it will need to be stored in the fridge due to the fresh cream topping.
A decorate pavlova will not keep well at all. The added moisture from the whipped cream will cause the crisp exterior of the pavlova to soften, making the whole dessert wilt. The best pavlova is the one you eat the day it’s decorated.
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Easy Pavlova Recipe
- 1 lemon or white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 180 g egg whites | approx. 6 large egg whites
- 360 g superfine sugar (aka baker’s sugar or caster sugar | 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 cup heavy cream plus extra for serving (whipping cream | 8 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Selection of fresh fruit to decorate
- Edible flowers (optional)
- First make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are spotlessly clean. Wipe them with white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or the cut edge of a fresh lemon to make sure there is no grease on them and to add acid to the egg whites.
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
- Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on a low speed until they reach soft peaks. This can take 8-10 minutes.
- Remaining at a low speed, add the sugar to the eggs one tablespoon at a time allowing the sugar to fully dissolve in-between each addition. Scrape down the bowl with a plastic spatula a couple of times during this process.
- When all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium and keep whisking until you have a very thick and glossy white meringue.
- Draw an 8” (20cm) circle on a piece of baking parchment then flip the paper over and put it onto your baking tray.
- Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle. Use a palette knife to spread it evenly then use the knife to drag up the sides of the meringue to form the pavlova.
- Use the back of a spoon to make a well in the top of the pavlova.
- Put the pavlova into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 225ºF.
- Bake for 1.5 hours then turn the heat off and leave the pavlova in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 6 hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready to decorate, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl and whisk to soft peaks.
- Add the whipped cream on top of the pavlova then decorate with fresh fruit.
- Serve with a drizzle of runny cream if desired.
• If you can’t find superfine sugar you can substitute it with granulated sugar, however, it will take longer to dissolve.
• The whisking of the meringue is a lengthy process but can’t be rushed otherwise the meringue might fail.
• The egg whites are at soft peaks when they leave a trail (or small peaks) in the mixing bowl when you lift the beaters up.
• It can take 15-20 minutes to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. It’s very important to do it slowly because if the sugar is not properly dissolved it can lead to a leaky or cracked meringue.
• Once all the sugar has been added to the eggs it can take a further 20 minutes or longer to turn into a thick and glossy mixture. You can check if it’s done by taking a small amount of the mixture out of the bowl with your thumb and forefinger. Rub your fingers together – if it’s smooth then the meringue is ready but if you can still feel some grains of sugar then it needs to be mixed further.
• Don’t be tempted to open the oven door while the pavlova is baking.
• It’s best to leave the baked pavlova in the oven for several hours once the baking time is complete. This is so it dries out completely and will prevent cracking.
• The outside of the pavlova will be very crisp and the inside will look like soft marshmallow.
• An undecorated pavlova can be kept in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. Once decorated it will have to be refrigerated because of the fresh cream. The pavlova will soften in the fridge so this dessert is best eaten on the day it is made.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the Easy Pavlova Recipe Story.
More Dessert Recipes:
- White Chocolate Fudge
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- Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee
- Citrus Dream Tart