Normally, I make my Pavlova a big affair with a huge portion of cascading, fresh, seasonable fruit. As a Christmas theme, I like to make mini pavlovas to create a festive wreath with an assortment of berries, kiwis, orange segments and interesting fruit like pomegranate, passionfruit pulp and fresh figs, finished off with a good drizzle of chocolate and raspberry sauce on alternative Pavlovas.
Pavlova is a delightful, crispy meringue with a gooey centre, covered in seasonable berries and fruit on top of luscious amounts of freshly whipped cream.
For those that know Pavlova, did you know it is naturally gluten-free? Here is a dessert that is 100% safe to eat and 200% amazingly delicious! Once you make your very first large Pavlova or mini Pavlovas, you will never look back. This classic is our family’s #1 choice for our “special occasion” dessert whether it is for a birthday, wedding anniversary or Christmas celebration, it never fails to disappoint.
Where did Pavlova originate from?
It is an all-Australian/New Zealand classical dessert, but notice how I share the heritage of this dessert between Australia and New Zealand? Well, after living in Melbourne for many years, I found out how divided Australians and New Zealanders are about claiming who invented pavlova. History is a bit murky about who really invented it first, but after some research, it appears that both countries had chefs create and name this meringue-based dessert after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova’s tutu while she was touring both countries in 1926.
The origins of this recipe actually arrived in Australia and New Zealand on the back of an American cornflour box. According to food specialists: Dr Andrew Paul Wood and Annabelle Utrecht, the true Pavlova has roots in Germany and America, plus one of the very first pavlova-like recipes found by them is a meringue, cream and fruit torte called the Spanische Windtorte, loved by the Austrian Habsburg Imperial family in the 18th century.
Even so, both Australia and New Zealand deserve all the credit for keeping this dessert alive and kicking with its endless array of toppings and magnificent displays.
Essential ingredients needed:
- Whites from 8 eggs, preferably organic
- Fine caster/white sugar
- White wine vinegar
- Freshly whipped cream (not the spray cream!)
- Fresh berries of your choice
- Passionfruit pulp
- Fresh fruit in season
- Dark chocolate to make the chocolate sauce
- Fresh raspberries to make the raspberry sauce
- Almond slivers
Tips for the best mini Pavlovas:
1. Separating the eggs is much easier when they are cold, however once separated, the eggs whites should be brought to room temperature for the most volume.
2. To avoid ruining your egg whites with the yolks while separating, a handy tip is to have 3 bowls ready. One to separate over and let the whites fall into the bowl. The second bowl to place the egg yolks in and the third to gather all the egg whites for whisking.
3. Before whisking, make sure to wipe the whisking bowl and attachments with white wine vinegar. This ensures that they are absolutely clean of oil or dirt to guarantee perfect peaks of whisked egg white.
4. Use the smallest crystals of caster/white sugar. The finer the better as it will dissolve easier when whisked into the egg whites.
5. Make sure to add the cornflour as this prevents the sugar from not absorbing moisture from the air which can make your Pavlova go soft and sticky after baking.
6. After the Pavlovas have finished baking, it is important to leave them to cool and dry in the oven. This ensures a crispy, dry exterior and a marshmallowy, tasty centre.
7. Baked Pavlovas can be stored in a switched-off oven overnight with the oven door shut or once completely cool, stored in an airtight container.
Mini Pavlova Christmas Wreath
(Post updated on 19 December 2021)
For the mini Pavlovas:
- 8 egg whites* (either from your frozen supply or from 10 fresh, medium eggs)
- 400g caster sugar, fine crystals
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
* Leftover yolks can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The spare egg yolks can be used to make lemon curd, mayonnaise, custards etc.
For the topping:
- 2 tubs of 300ml cream
- An assortment of fresh fruit: raspberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, mango, figs, passionfruit, pomegranate and black grapes.
- Sage or mint leaves, to decorate
- 3 tablespoons almonds, slivered
For the chocolate sauce:
- 60g dark chocolate chips or pieces
For the raspberry sauce:
- 60g frozen or fresh raspberries
- 30g caster sugar
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Cooking time: 45 minutes
- Decorating time: 20 minutes
1. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Draw out Twelve “10 cm circles” on the two baking papers using a lid or small plate.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
3. Separate the eggs. (see earlier tips for separating eggs).
4. Using either a handheld whisk or a bench top mixer, start whisking the whites at a low speed for 3 minutes.
6. Lower the speed to medium and gradually add the sugar until all the sugar granules have disappeared. Check this by rubbing a little mixture between your thumb and finger. At this stage, the whites will start to become glossy and stiff.
7. Stop whisking. Sprinkle the sifted corn flour and white vinegar over the whites.
9. Gently spoon the Pavlova mixture onto each drawn-out circle on the baking trays.
10. Using a small spatula, spread out the mixture gently to the edge of each circle and form peaks over the top of each Pavlova.
11. Position both trays gently in the preheated oven.
12. Bake for 5 minutes at 180°C/350°F.
13. Turn down the temperature to 150°C/300°F.
17. Prepare the chocolate sauce by melting the chocolate chips and butter gently in a bowl over simmering water. Set aside.
18. Heat the raspberries and sugar gently, stirring often. Remove from the heat once the raspberries have broken down and turned into a runny sauce. Set aside.
19. Clean and prepare the fresh fruit leaving some whole and some sliced.
20. Choose a large platter or wooden board to arrange your pavlovas in a large circle.
21. In a deep bowl, whisk the cream until medium-soft peaks form.
21. Place the cream in a serving bowl and spoon some cream on top of only 8 mini pavlovas.
23. Decorate the cream-topped Pavlovas with the fresh fruit of your choice.
24. Decorate the remaining pavlovas with the chocolate sauce and slivered almonds. Pour any left-over chocolate sauce into a small bowl and position it next to the wreath for those who want extra sauce .
25. Pour the raspberry sauce over some of the cream-topped pavlovas and garnish with berries. Pour the left-over sauce into a small bowl and position it next to the wreath.
- Makes 12 mini Pavlovas
- Best served immediately after decorating
- Any leftovers can be chilled for no more than one day
- Baked undecorated mini Pavlovas can be made 3 days beforehand. Store in an airtight container.
- Unsuitable to freeze
Freeze egg whites for a maximum of two months. Gradually add egg whites to a freezer container when a recipe only asks for egg yolks. Make a note of how many egg whites are being added to the freezer. If unsure of quantity, measure two tablespoons of whites for each large egg white. Defrost egg whites overnight before preparing pavlovas.