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Vanilla Bean Pavlova & Mini Pavlovas

Pavlova seems to be having a moment, and for good reason. Light as a feather with a crisp exterior and marshmallow-y center, these meringues can be topped with the traditional cream & berries or any other sweet topping that strikes your fancy.

individual pavlovas on a table

This yummy Australian/New Zealand dessert is named for a famous Russian ballerina. The whimsical side of me likes to imagine that the design is meant to look like a fluffy tutu.

Don’t worry, despite meringue’s reputation for being fussy and difficult, it’s much less fragile than you’d think. This dessert couldn’t be easier to make.

But, please, follow the steps in the recipe to get the best volume and texture in your meringue. It’s not difficult, but technique does matter for making the ultimate meringue.

Helpful hints for making perfect Pavlova (& Mini Pavlova):

  • Use fresh egg whites, pasteurized whites do not work for meringue.
  • For the best volume, allow the whites to come to room temperature before whipping.
  • As with all meringues, a speck of fat in the bowl will cause the meringue to collapse. Work with a clean bowl and make sure there are no stray egg yolks.
  • Start the meringue on medium speed and wait until you have soft peaks before you begin adding the sugar.
  • If you add the sugar too soon you’ll won’t get full volume.
  • If you add the sugar too late it can’t be dissolved in the whites and your meringue will be gritty.
  • Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream. If you add the sugar too fast or whip the meringue to quickly, you’ll get a gritty meringue. For your patience you’ll be rewarded with a perfectly glossy meringue. See these photos in my Angel Food Cake post for more about perfect meringue.
  • Dump the meringue onto a parchment line pan and form it into a large, free-form mound with a dip in the center.
  • This recipe makes 1 large pavlova, 8 individual pavlovas or 12 mini pavlovas.

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make perfect Pavlova:

egg whites whipped to soft peak with vanilla beans being added
Whip the egg whites to soft peak, then add the vanilla beans and salt.
a whisk showing egg whites whipped to stiff peak
Add the sugar in a slow steady stream then whip the whites to stiff peak.
a spatula forming an individual pavlova
Use a small spatula or spoon to shape the pavlova, form a depression on top to hold the berries and cream.
individual pavlovas on a tray ready to bake
You can form one large Pavlova or individual mini Pavlovas

FAQs about making Pavlovas:

Can I use pasteurized egg whites to make pavlova?

No, pasteurized whites will not whip to a stable meringue.

What’s the difference between baked meringues and pavlova?

Because the meringue for pavlova has both an acid (vinegar) and a starch added, the interior does not bake up crisp, but stays soft and chewy. Regular baked meringues are crunchy all the way through.

Can Pavlovas be baked in advance?

Yes, the baked meringues can be stored, covered, in a cool dry place for a couple of days. Make sure they are not in a humid environment like the refrigerator or they will soften.

Can I fix a pavlova that has gotten soft?

Yes, put it back in a 200° F oven and bake until crisp.

What’s the best topping for Pavlova?

Berries and cream are traditional. But Lemon Curd, Passion Fruit Curd, Ganache and Nutella are just a few other options. Use your imagination!

an individual pavlova on a pink plate and a spoon dropping whipped cream
a pavlova on a pink plate topped with ceam and berries.

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.

If you’ve still got extra egg whites I’ve got you covered. Check out this collection of recipes that use extra whites for more great ideas.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a pavlova with berries and cream on a pink plate

Pavlova

Yield: 1 large or 8 individual
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Light as a feather with a crisp exterior and marshmallow-y center, these meringues can be topped with the traditional cream & berries or any other sweet topping that strikes your fancy.

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg whites (7 oz, 196g), room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 ½ cups (12 oz, 336g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixer bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium speed (#6-7) until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, add the salt and the vanilla seeds. In a slow, steady stream add the sugar to the egg whites. Increase the speed to medium-high (#7-8) and continue whipping until stiff peaks are formed. The total whipping time will be about 8-10 minutes.
  1. Stop the mixer and add the vinegar and cornstarch. Whip on medium to incorporate the ingredients.
  2. Spoon the meringue into one large mound in the center of the tray. To make individual servings spoon 8 equal size mounds and use two trays. Smooth the meringue pile with back of spoon to form a depression in middle. You can leave the shape of the meringue free-form or you can smooth it out to a more symmetrical shape.
  3. Bake the meringue until the exterior is dry and still very pale in color, about 1 hour. Use a small spatula to gently lift the edge of the meringue, it should separate easily from the parchment paper. Turn off the oven, prop the door open a crack, and leave the meringue in the oven for at least 1 hour.
  4. Cool completely before filling and serving. Wrap the sheet pan to store meringues for 4-5 days.

Did you make this recipe?

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Tortaitortica

Sunday 26th of January 2020

Perfect timing, I needed a trusted recipe for a Pavlova, I will look no further. I just have one question - if I am going to assemble it as a layer cake and fill with a custard - based filling, some whipped heavy cream and fruit, how much in advance can it be made and how long does it last? Thank you in advance!