Mini pavlovas filled with chantilly cream and topped with strawberries are the perfect way to celebrate any occasion, including the welcoming of spring and summer!
Pavlovas are the perfect dessert for those occasions that call for 'nice and light and sweet' things: baby showers, spring brunches, and of course...Mother's Day! The bases are these little meringues that have very delicate crisp shells and soft marshmallow interior, then the middles are filled with sweet chantilly cream and topped with all those yummy in season strawberries. If you don't like the sound of that, we can't be friends.
Okay, maybe we can be friends.
Anyway, making pavlovas (which are basically Australia's unofficial national dessert, apparently) is incredibly easy, as long as you got the time and the temperature (and humidity) game down.
This is such a great light summer dessert to serve after a Sunday supper of salmon baked with lemon-herb butter and a nice summer salad...*scribbles to make this part of a menu plan this summer...*
Let's go over some tips to make your pavlovas easy, and you're not wasting three cartons of eggs trying to make them....don't look at me like that. Recipe testing requires sacrifice.
Fool-proof Pavlova Tips
Temperature at 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) ensures your meringue crisps up without burning.
In these photos, I have two hearty spoonfuls of meringue to make each pavlova, so the timing was 50 minutes in the oven. These pavlovas are not bite-sized, they're pretty big.
If you only use one hearty dollop of meringue, bake it for about 35-40 minutes. You want your meringue nest to crisp up on the outside and the insides to set up into marshmallow goodness.
The meringue must rest in the oven for an hour.
Crack that oven door open and leave those babies to cool for an hour. Taking the meringue out to cool will shock them with the temperature change, making them collapse or completely crack open and fall apart.
It's perfectly okay if they are a little golden (in fact, they are in these photos!) when you pull them out of the oven. I prefer them that way, but that would make my pastry chef glare at me so hard...sorry, Chef Paris. They don't taste any different; and it's perfectly okay if the middle (where you put your little well) is cracked and sunken in. No one will see that, it'll be full of cream and berries.
They're delicate so be careful.
No, seriously. Touch them wrong and you'll crush that crispy shell. If you make them ahead, carefully put them in a large zip-top bag and onto a plate on shelf by themselves.
Stay away from humidity.
Humidity will kill all that crispy goodness. If you don't have a great A/C unit, a dehumidifier, or the blessing of Jesus, I'm sorry South Floridians rainy season is not the time of the year to break out the pavlovas. Everyone else, just make sure it's not raining or humid the day you make them.
Pavlova Q & A's
Why did my pavlovas deflate?
Were they nice and poofy when you cracked open the oven and now they're kinda flat? That means they didn't get enough cooking time before you cooled them. Try again, and up the cooking time by about 5 minutes.
Why did my pavlovas crack?
Ooh, that one could be a gaggle of reasons:
Your temperature is too high (I said 250! I meant 250!)
You opened the oven while baking.
You left the oven wide open instead of just cracking it, so there was a sudden change in temperature.
You over-mixed the egg whites (it would've looked curdled and separated in the mixing bowl)
You didn't mix it until the sugar dissolved.
Why are my meringue nests weeping?
Undissolved sugar can cause this. Basically undissolved sugar is your enemy. Also, moisture, like the dreaded humidity.
For more spring and summer desserts, check out:
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- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (15g) cornstarch
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp (5g) white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp (5g) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240g) heavy cream (at least 30% butterfat)
- 1 tbsp (2g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (5g) vanilla extract
- Fresh strawberries, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Set aside as well.
- In a large, clean (no grease!) mixing bowl with a hand mixer, or using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed just until frothy. Then beat in the kosher salt and cream of tartar on medium speed.
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running on medium-high speed. Continue to beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until smooth (no grainy sugar!), shiny, and stiff peaks form.
- Add in the vanilla extract and white distilled vinegar, and gently fold the glossy egg mixture with a spatula.
- Take a tiny bit of meringue and smear it under the corners of the parchment on the baking sheets so the parchment doesn't move. Spoon the batter into 8 rounds (six if you're making them as big as I did, two large and hearty dollops per meringue) on the prepared baking sheets. Make a shallow well in the center of each round with the back of a smaller spoon.
- Bake for 35 minutes if small (one spoonful) or 45-50 minutes if larger (two spoonfuls). And then turn the oven off and let it cool for at least an hour with the oven door ajar. Store cooled mini Pavlovas in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature, or in the cooled oven until ready to assemble.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer (or stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble pavlovas.
- To assemble the pavlovas, fill the meringue shells with chantilly cream and top with fresh strawberries.
- Serve immediately, as meringue doesn't do well with prolonged moisture.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.