Berry Pavlova – Vanilla meringue is baked into a cake with a crispy shell exterior and creamy interior and then topped with sweetened whipped cream and mixed berries
Yay for berry season! I started off the season making these Raspberry & Cream Profiteroles and now I’m back with another berry recipe – Berry Pavlova.
Berry Pavlova is a crispy meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fresh berries in a raspberry sauce. It’s super light and refreshing – perfect for serving on those hot summer days. Plus, the red, white, and blue colors in this dessert make it PERFECT for dessert on 4th of July!
My favorite part of the pavlova is the creamy center of the meringue. In my mind, I always expect pavlova to be firm and dry. Not this one! It’s baked just until it’s cooked through so the outside is crispy but the inside is fluffy and creamy like a marshmallow cloud.
Before we get into the recipe, here are some beautiful shots of the Berry Pavlova!
What is a pavlova?
A pavlova is a cake made from baking meringue and topped with whipped cream and fruit. It’s different from a meringue cookie in that it’s usually softer in the center, whereas a meringue cookie is firm yet chewy in the center. You also will not be able to eat a pavlova with your hands.
How is this pavlova made?
Pavlova is super simple to make. It takes a couple hours because the meringue is cooked low and slow to prevent browning and cracking of the egg whites. This cooking method also ensures the center is soft and marshmallow-y.
Once the meringue is cooked, it’s cooled and then topped with fresh whipped cream and fresh berries.
Baking the meringue
To make the meringue, first, we whip the egg whites until shiny and fluffy. While the egg whites are whipping, sugar is added slowly to ensure it dissolves completely and does not end adding a gritty texture to the egg whites. They are then folded with cornstarch and white wine vinegar to stabilize the egg whites so they don’t deflate while baking.
Once the egg whites are whipped and firm, they are spread into a 9-inch circle on a baking sheet and then baked for 90 minutes in a 180-degree oven. Yes, it’s really that low and yes, you’re oven will go down that low. It’s baked until the exterior is firm and the center is still slightly soft and marshmallow-like. If you are unsure of the doneness, leave the pavlova in the oven while it’s off to cool completely.
Making the topping
Once the meringue is baked and cooled, it’s time to top with fresh whipped cream and berries. The whipped cream is made the same as you’ve always made it. But the berries have a little something special to take this pavlova to another level.
The berries are tossed in a raspberry sauce that is made with just a little water and raspberry jam. The water and jam are whisked together and simmered over medium heat to reduce it slightly. Once it’s cooled down, it’s added to berries and the refrigerated until assembly time.
Assembling the pavlova
The meringue cake is gently topped with dollops of fresh whipped cream and scoops of berries. I try to drain the berries a little out a little liquid. Liquid and meringue don’t go well together.
Once the topping is added, the meringue must be served immediately.
Tips & Tricks
- The most important step of this whole process is dissolving the sugar in the egg whites. If it doesn’t dissolve, the pavlova will taste gritty and the sugar will form a syrup and seep out during the baking process.
- My pavlova was super delicate so I didn’t transfer it to a serving platter for risk of it breaking apart. So I just left it on the baking sheet. I thought it looked perfectly fine that way!
- To ensure the egg whites beat easily, it’s important that they be room temperature.
- To prevent cracking of the pavlova, keep the pavlova in the oven to cool completely. Any sudden increases or decreases in temperature can shock the meringue and cause it to crack.
- You cannot save an assembled pavlova to enjoy later. Once the whipped cream and berries hit the egg whites, they will begin to deflate and soften. However, you can make all the components and assemble later for serving.
For the pavlova:
- 5 large egg whites room temperature
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream cold
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the berry topping:
- ¼ cup seedless raspberry jam
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Baking the pavlova:
- Place oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grab a sheet of parchment paper and track a 9-inch circle in the center. Turn over the paper and place onto a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Add egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with salts. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium high until the start to get foamy. At that time, with the mixer on medium, add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking for about 30 seconds before adding the next addition. This ensures the sugar gets completely dissolved into the egg whites. Once all the sugar has been added, take the speed up to medium high and whip into stiff peaks. The egg whites should be fluffy and glossy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the sugar and then beat for 15 more seconds.
- With the mixer turned off, sift the cornstarch over the stiff egg whites. Add the white wine vinegar and vanilla extract and fold all three into the egg whites gently. Spoon the beaten egg whites onto the traced 9-inch circle of the parchment paper from Step 1. Spread egg whites into an even disk about 2 inches high. Place in preheated oven to bake for 90 minutes. Do not open oven door for any reason. You don't want to disturb the pavlova while it bakes.
- After it's baked for 90 minutes, turn off the oven but leave the pavlova in the oven to cool for 1 hour. In the meantime, prepare the berries and whipped cream.
For the whipped cream:
- Add heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until stiff peaks form. It's important for the whipped cream to be stiff so that it can stand up to the berry juice and protect the pavlova from the moisture.
For the berries:
- Whisk raspberry jam and water together in a small sauce pan. Place over medium heat until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes to help it reduce slightly. Turn off heat and let it cool slightly.
- Add all the berries to a medium bowl. Add raspberry sauce to the berries and toss them together to combine. Cover and refrigerate until assembly time.
Assembling the pavlova:
- Remove the pavlova from the oven. If it's still warm, let it cool to room temperature before assembling.
- Once the pavlova is cool, you can transfer it to a serving platter or keep it on the baking sheet if you're worried about it breaking. Dollop whipped cream gently oven the top of the pavolva. Then spoon on the berries, draining most of the juice. Serve directly on the baking sheet, or cut and serve onto plates, using a pancake spatula to keep the pavlova from falling apart.