If you can whip egg whites you can make a stunning berry pavlova, it’s the perfect summer dessert. The meringue is crisp on the outside, soft and marshmallowy inside, mounded with whipped cream and mixed berries. Doesn’t get any better, or easier.
a berry pavlova is elegant and rustic at the same time
Imagine the most delicious soft vanilla marshmallow with an ultra- thin crispy crust that shatters when you cut into it. Pavlovas are essentially large meringues made from sweetened beaten egg whites that are baked low and slow until they are crisp on the outside and soft and all plushy inside. Top that with whipped cream and fresh fruit, and you’ve got a pavlova. Yes they’re show stoppers, but they’re not at all difficult or fussy to assemble. There’s no right or wrong way to present one, and in fact they should be perfectly imperfect for best effect.
what you’ll need for a summer berry pavlova
- egg whites ~ you’ll want them to be at room temperature for best whipping volume.
- sugar ~ granulated sugar is traditional, I like to use baker’s or superfine sugar, which dissolves quicker.
- cornstarch ~ cornstarch will absorb any excess moisture and stabilizes the meringue.
- lemon juice ~ the acid also helps stabilize the whipped egg whites. You can substitute white vinegar.
- vanilla extract ~ I use it in the meringue and in the whipped cream
- heavy cream ~ whipped cream makes a luxurious base for the toppings.
- mixed berries ~ I used raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries (technically not a berry, but hey.) This pavlova will be just as fantastic if you only use one type of berry ~ the only requirement is that they must be fresh.
how to make and assemble a pavlova ~ it’s easy!
Once you realize how easy this elegant dessert is to make, you’ll do it often, trust me.
- Whip your sweetened egg whites to stiff peaks and spread into a large flat round on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Form an indentation in the center with a back of a spoon, where your fillings will go later.
- Bake for 90 minutes in a 250F oven.
- Turn off the oven when the timer sounds, and leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for another hour.
- To the cooled meringue with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
- Dust with powdered sugar and/or drizzle with a simple fruit sauce if desired.
- Assemble your pavlova just before serving for best texture. You can have all the elements ready in advance. Keep the meringue on the counter, the whipped cream in the fridge, and combine them at the last minute…otherwise the moisture in the cream will start to soften the crisp crust of the pavlova.
berry pavlova and meringue faqs
Both are made with sweetened whipped egg whites, but meringues are usually crisp throughout, and a pavlova is crisp on the outside, soft and marshmallow-y on the inside. Pavlovas usually bake at a slightly higher temperature for a shorter time which gives them that lovely contrast in texture.
No, you can use hand held electric beaters, too. I do recommend some sort of electrical assistance because you’ll need to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
The meringue for pavlova is made with raw eggs which are safe to eat when cooked to at least 160F. We cook our pavlova for 90 minutes at 250F so the eggs are safe to eat. If you are still concerned you can use powdered eggs whites or pasteurized eggs.
Cornstarch serves to absorb any excess moisture in the meringue and keep it from weeping in humid conditions. The acid in lemon juice helps to stabilize the meringue. (Substitute white vinegar too.)
It really depends on how humid your environment is. In a dry climate I have made meringues up to several days ahead, but in a more humid kitchen they will not stay crisp. Keep the pavlova on the counter, do not refrigerate and do not freeze.
Yes, just spoon out your meringue into small piles and smooth them out into individual circles. The baking time will be a little shorter.
The longer you bake the meringue, the crisper it will be. Spread it out thinly on your baking sheet for crisper results.
Shorter baking time and a taller, thicker meringue will yield soft chewy results, just the way I like them, too!
Pavlovas cook at a very low temperature, so opening the door to peek can have a big effect on the interior heat.
Gently lift the bottom of your meringue off the parchment paper, if it lifts off easily, it’s done. The surface should be dry and matte.
Cracking is a natural feature of meringues, and nothing to stress about. I think rustic cracks make the pavlova all that more appealing. It shows the crisp outer texture and hints at that amazing interior!
If your oven heat is too high, or you cook it too long, the surface of the meringue may turn golden. The taste will not be affected, and a little color is to be expected.
I like to slice it just like a pie, although it usually won’t cut super cleanly. Just go with it, it’s part of the pavlova charm!
more recipes for summer berries
- Blueberry Lemon Cake
- Fresh Strawberry Milk
- Raspberry Lemon Cake
- Fresh Strawberry Galette
- Blackberry Cobbler Bars
- Blackberry Slab Pie Bars
- Raspberry Champagne Sorbet
- stand mixer or electric beaters
- 1 cup sweetened whipped cream, or more to taste
- assorted fresh berries
- confectioner's sugar
easy berry sauce
- 1/2 cup your favorite berry jam
- water to thin
- Preheat the oven to 250F (an oven thermometer is a great tool to have in case your oven is not calibrated correctly) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and beat until foamy. With the mixer going, add the salt and then slowly add the sugar, very slowly. Add the lemon juice and cornstarch and then let the mixer go on high until the whites are stiff and glossy. This might take anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
- Pile the meringue onto your parchment lined baking sheet and spread out into a disk, about 2 inches thick. Use the back of a spoon to create a slight depression in the center where we'll pile the whipped cream and berries later. Note: the meringue will not change its shape in the oven, so the way you shape it now will be exactly how it stays.
- Bake the meringues for 90 minutes, and don't disturb while baking. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool in the oven, for another hour.
- Remove the meringue from the oven and keep at room temperature until ready to assemble and serve your pavlova.
- To make the fruit sauce, mix jam with enough water to make a thin sauce, then strain.
- Assemble the pavlova just before serving ~ pile the whipped cream in the center.
- Top with your berries.
- Drizzle with fruit sauce, if you like, then dust with powdered sugar. A few mint leaves add a nice touch if you have them.