My almond pavlova is a crisp meringue that cracks open to a pillowy marshmallow center. It’s topped with toasted almonds, whipped cream, and summer berries that sparkle like little gems. It’s a glorious gluten free dessert!
almond pavlova with summer berries is the highlight of summer
The pavlova is a meringue dessert created by a chef Down Under (whether in Australia or New Zealand is hotly debated) in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured the countries in the early 20th century. The chef was said to be inspired by her tutu.
As fancy summer desserts go, the pavlova makes a spectacular presentation with very little effort. The difference between a pavlova and a basic meringue is that, while a meringue is crisp throughout, the pavlova has a soft marshmallowy interior. That’s what I love about it. It’s one of those desserts where texture is everything. The cool creamy whipped cream and tart fruit play supporting (but no less yummy) roles.
ingredients for almond pavlova
For an almond pavlova I’m using sliced almonds, toasted for extra flavor and crunch, and almond extract in both the meringue and the whipped cream.
- egg whites
- it’s important that they be a room temperature for best volume.
- granulated sugar
- if you have superfine baking sugar on hand, that’s perfect because it dissolves more readily into the whites as you whip them. But you can use regular granulated sugar as well.
- this helps keep the center creamy and soft.
- lemon juice
- lemon juice helps the meringue hold its structure. You can substitute white vinegar.
- almond extract
- either heavy or whipping cream works, and you whip it just until it’s thick, but not grainy or stiff. Some like to use fruit curd instead of whipped cream, and I think a tart lemon curd or rhubarb curd would be perfect in this case.
- confectioner’s sugar
- sweetens the cream and actually provides a little structure as well.
- sliced almonds
- I toast them first to bring out flavor and crunch.
- summer berries
- a trip to a farmers market inspired my choice: raspberries and currants. Currants are tart little berries that resemble gooseberries. I usually only find them once a year at the farmers market, but depending on where you live you can find them growing wild. They vary from dark purple to deep red, pale pink, and white and they have a translucent, jewel-like appearance.
how to make an almond pavlova
- Whip egg whites with sugar, a little salt, almond extract, lemon juice and cornstarch until stiff and glossy.
- Spread out into a round disk on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make a shallow depression in the center with the back of a spoon.
- Bake in a low 250F oven for 1 1/2 hours (depending on thickness.)
- Turn the oven off but leave the pavlova in the oven for another hour.
- Serve topped with toasted almonds, sweetened whipped cream and fruit.
to make a low carb pavlova
Substitute the granulated sugar with a sugar free granulated product. I like to blend it briefly in a food processor to get a finer grain. Substitute your favorite sugar free powdered sugar for sweetening the whipped cream.
The nice thing about pavlovas is that they’re fairly straightforward and not fussy ~ just the way I like my recipes! Keep these pointers in mind and you shouldn’t have any trouble…
- pavlovas are best made in dry weather. Excess humidity can make them soggy, so don’t bake on a rainy day,
- room temperature egg whites whip best. Also make sure your bowl and beaters are grease free.
- make sure you know your oven temperature, an inexpensive oven thermometer is worth having to be sure you’re not under or over cooking your meringue.
- shape your pavlova into a 9-inch circle of even thickness so it will cook evenly. A fully cooked meringue should lift up easily from the parchment paper without sticking. It should be soft and marshmallowy but not wet in the center.
- do not worry about cracks on the surface or neat slicing ~ the beauty of a pavlova is in the messy elegance. Go with the flow.
- almond pavlova is safe to eat because the egg whites are cooked, but if you are immunocompromised and worried you can use pasteurized eggs, which have been briefly heat treated to make them completely safe, even when raw. Look for them in most large grocery stores.
Pavlova looks fancy, but it’s actually one of the simplest desserts you can make. If you haven’t made one yet, I highly recommend it. It’s so much more delicious than you would imagine, and it makes a nice change from cakes and pies when you want to serve a special dessert. Aside from the whipped cream, it’s actually one of the lighter choices!
make individual almond pavlovas
See my Individual Raspberry Pavlovas for instructions on making smaller pavlovas. Those are fun because you can fill each one differently, if you like.
more summer desserts
- Blueberry Lemon Cake
- Fresh Cherry Dessert Sauce
- Lemon Icebox Pie
- Raspberry Almond Bars
- Fresh Strawberry Galette
- Blueberry Zucchini Snack Cake with Lemon Buttercream
- Cherry Almond Crisp Dump Cake
Almond Pavlova with Summer Berries
- stand mixer or electric beaters
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar Note: superfine baker's sugar is ideal, but optional.
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp cornstarch, sifted
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- fresh berries for garnish, I used currants and raspberries
- mint leaves, optional
- Preheat oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk, beat the egg whites and salt until they just become foamy. With the machine going, slowly drizzle in the sugar.
- Once the sugar is incorporated, add the extract, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
- Beat on high speed until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Spread the meringue out on the lined baking sheet in a circle, about 9 inches in diameter. Make a shallow depression in the center with the back of a large spoon. This is where your whipped cream and berries will go later.
- Bake for 90 minutes. Then turn off the oven but leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for another hour. Then remove and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile whip the cream with the sugar and extract.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle most of the almonds across the center of the cooled meringue, reserving a few for garnish. Then fill the center with the whipped cream. Top with fresh berries and a scattering of almonds.
- Serve your pavlova immediately. It is best eaten all in one go. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.