A Christmas lunch would not be complete in Australia without a pavlova! This is the quintessential Australian dessert and absolutely delicious! They are sometimes tricky to make and whilst they don’t contain a lot of ingredients, the secret lies with the cooking.
When made correctly, a pavlova should be crisp and very pale golden on the outside (like a meringue) with fluffy, marshmallowy goodness in the middle. Every oven varies so you might have to experiment with your oven temperatures and times.
If syrupy droplets form on the surface of the meringue, it has been overcooked. Liquid oozing from the meringue is a sign of undercooking.
I love passionfruit on a pavlova. I find the tartness of the fruit balances perfectly with the sweet, sugary meringue and there’s something about the golden, luscious juice, oozing over the pristine white of the whipped cream that looks spectacular. However any seasonal fruit can be used to top the pavlova. For Christmas you could try kiwi fruit and strawberries to add a green and red festive element or try the delicious, jewel like kernels of a pomegranate to add a little lux to your dessert.
This is Australian chef, Stefanie Alexander’s recipe for making pavlova and the one I always use. Also, don’t attempt to double the recipe, you’re better off making two separate pavlovas and remember, this is a very rich dessert so a little slice goes a long way!
- 4 egg whites at room temp.
- Pinch of salt
- 250g castor sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
- Few drops vanilla
- 300 ml, firmly whipped cream
- Fruit to to
- Preheat over to 180° Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw a 20 cm circle on the paper (I use a plate or the rim of a bowl and draw around that).
- Beat egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Beat in sugar, a third at a time, until meringue is stiff and shiny (this is important, the mixture must be quite stiff and very shiny). Sprinkle over cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold in lightly.
- Using a spatula, mound mixture onto paper-lined tray within the circle, flattening the top and smoothing the sides.
- Place in oven and IMMEDIATELY reduce heat to 150° C and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat further to 120° C and cook for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave pavlova in it to cool completely. Invert pavlova onto a platter and just before serving pile on whipped cream and fruit.
Your pavlova will most likely crack on the surface as it cools. I find this hard to avoid and haven’t managed one yet where there isn’t at least a little cracking. Don’t worry, it will be covered by the whipped cream.
Also, once it’s cooled, the pavlova (without the whipped cream) will sit happily in an airtight container for a day.