This pavlova recipe is the only summer dessert recipe you’ll need

This pavlova recipe is the only summer dessert recipe you'll need

For seasoned chefs and kitchen novices, cookbook author and nutritionist Robin Miller goes back to basics with great, family-friendly recipes worth making again and again.

Recognized as one of the national desserts of both New Zealand and Australia, this iconic dessert is said to be named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina who often toured both countries. Like the meringue-based treat, her dance performances were light and airy.

Each bite of pavlova delivers a variety of flavors and textures—a cloud of whipped cream and a ton of fresh berries, a crunchy meringue shell with a marshmallow-esque center.

It’s the ideal summer dessert, but many home cooks avoid making pavlova recipes because they contain meringue, a sweet, glossy mix of whipped egg whites and sugar.

Yes, meringues can be tricky, but if you follow a few simple rules and dodge the common pitfalls, you can make a flawless pavlova every time. And it’s easier than you think.

What is pavlova? Is it the same as meringue?

Pavlova is not a classic meringue. Both pavlova and traditional meringue contain egg whites and sugar, whipped until firm, shiny and smooth. The mixture is then shaped, baked and cooled before serving.

While meringue is traditionally dry inside and out, an ideal pavlova is soft and fluffy in the center and crispy on the outside.

To achieve this texture, there are a few simple, yet essential tips to follow.

How to make the perfect pavlova

Use glass or metal dishes. Make sure all your equipment is clean and dry and use only glass or metal bowls to separate the eggs and beat the whites.

Plastic bowls can contain grease from previous use and the moisture will keep your egg whites from getting light and fluffy.

Keep the humidity under control. Do not make pavlova on days with high humidity. Rainy day? Save pavlova for another time.

Pavlova is actually a mixture of protein and sugar. Sugar is hydrophilic, meaning it absorbs water from the environment. If the sugar molecules contain water, the proteins cannot hold them. The result is a pavlova that collapses or cries (loose) in the middle.

It’s not just about rain. Make sure you don’t boil pasta water, do dishes, or make tea in a kettle until your pavlova has completely cooled, as the meringue can be finicky before, during and after baking.

Once the meringue has cooled completely, you are free to do as you please.

Use room temperature egg whites. Eggs at room temperature beat better and faster than cold eggs and ensure maximum volume.

But it is easier to separate eggs when they are cold. Separate them first, then let the egg whites sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before whipping.

Save the yolks for another use.

Don’t knock too fast. Speaking of whisking, whisk your egg whites on low to medium speed. Yes, you read that right. Never beat above medium.

When you whip egg whites at high speed, air is added quickly. That same air eventually escapes quickly, because the foam isn’t stable enough to hold it.

Low and slow is the best way to ensure a successful meringue.

Use finely ground sugar. Finer sugar dissolves more easily. So use caster sugar, which has a fine structure, or process granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until fine.

Slowly add the sugar. When adding the sugar to the frothy egg whites, add 1 tablespoon at a time. Make sure each tablespoon is completely dissolved before adding the next tablespoon. Any undissolved sugars will absorb water and your meringue may collapse or cry.

Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. If your meringue seems ready to bake, test to see if all the sugar has dissolved. Rub a small amount of the meringue between your fingers. If the meringue feels grainy, beat the mixture more. Also check for sugar under the whisk and on the bottom of the bowl.

Do not look! Bake your pavlova at a low oven temperature and resist the temptation to open the oven. We want the meringue to expand slowly so that the inside remains marshmallow-like while the outside becomes crispy.

If the oven is too hot, the meringue will expand quickly and deflate quickly as it cools. And opening the oven door can cause rapid temperature changes, hindering proper baking.

Make the pavlova shell the night before. Even if cooked at a low temperature, your pavlova should cool gradually. Rapid changes in temperature can cause the meringue to crack or collapse.

Cool the pavlova in the oven with the oven off for at least 6 hours.

Pro tip: Make the pavlova in the evening and let it cool in the oven overnight. I left my pavlova in the oven for 12 hours.

Recipe: Simple Strawberry Pavlova

You can make your pavlova merengue up to 24 hours in advance, but only the meringue portion. Store it in an airtight container away from moisture (not in the refrigerator). Whip your cream until stiff and add it together with the strawberries just before serving.

Makes: 6 servings


  • 7 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar or granulated sugar that has been finely processed in a food processor or blender
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

Before serving:

  • 1 ½ cups whipped cream of your choice
  • 1 cup sliced ​​fresh strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 300 F (convection mode is preferred, but not required).
  2. Trace a 9 inch round cake pan or plate onto a large piece of parchment paper. Turn the paper over and place on a large baking tray.
  3. Place the egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low (approximately speed 4 on a 10-speed mixer) until soft peaks form and are frothy, not holding their shape. Note: This may take a few minutes depending on your mixer.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low (speed 3 on a 10-speed mixer) and gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Make sure each tablespoon of sugar has dissolved before adding the next tablespoon. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  5. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, increase speed to 4 and beat until egg whites are thick and glossy and hold their shape when whisk is lifted. This may take several minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and vinegar and stir until the cornstarch has dissolved. When the meringue is glossy and thick, increase the mixer speed to 5 or 6, add the cornstarch mixture and beat for another 30 seconds.
  7. Use a clean, dry spatula to transfer the mixture to the center of the circle on the parchment paper. Note: If there is undissolved sugar in the bottom of the bowl, do not transfer it to the parchment paper. Spread the meringue to fill the circle and smooth the surface. If desired, use an offset spatula to create decorative swirls on the top and sides.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 225 F. Bake for 90 minutes (do not open the oven door while baking).
  9. Turn off the oven and let the pavlova cool for at least 6 hours.
  10. When ready to serve, top the pavlova with the whipped cream and berries. Serve immediately.

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