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* * UPDATED on 6 Dec 2022 * *
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 and occasionally chocolate sauce.
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.
For those who have subscribed to my newsletter, you may be familiar with the chocolate pavlova recipe in the mini baking cookbook. You could also follow that recipe to make mini pavlovas for chocolate enthusiasts.
Is Pavlova gluten-free?
Pavlova 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.
Ingredients needed for this recipe:
- Egg whites, preferably organic
- Fine caster/white sugar
- White wine vinegar
- Freshly whipped cream from 36% fat content cream (not the spray cream!)
- Fresh berries of your choice
- Passionfruit pulp
- Fresh fruit in season
- Dark chocolate to make the chocolate sauce
- Fresh or frozen 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 egg 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 is to place the egg yolks in and the third is 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 tin.
Mini Pavlova Christmas Wreath
- 8 egg whites
- 400 g caster sugar, fine crystals
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 500 ml cream with 36g fat content
- 300 g an assortment of fruit: raspberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, mango, figs, passionfruit, pomegranate and/or black grapes.
- 3 tbsp almonds, slivered
- fresh whole mint leaves, to decorate
- fresh whole sage leaves purely to decorate but not to eat with pavlovas!
- 60 g good-quality dark chocolate chips or pieces
- 10 g butter
- 60 g frozen or fresh raspberries
- 30 g caster/white sugar
- Line two baking trays with baking paper. Draw out “10 cm circles” on the two baking papers using a lid or small plate.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Separate the eggs using three clean grease-free bowls: one for separating, one for the egg yolks and the last one for the egg whites. This method reduces any potential yolk from spilling into the entire batch of egg whites.
- Using either an electric handheld whisk or a stand mixer, start whisking the egg whites at a low speed for 3 minutes.
- Increase the speed to high until the egg whites have formed soft peaks.
- 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.
- Turn the whisker off and sprinkle the sifted corn flour over the egg whites.
- Next, drizzle the white vinegar and return to whisk on a low speed for 30 seconds.
- Gently spoon the pavlova mixture onto each drawn-out circle on the baking trays.
- Using a small spatula or the back of a spoon, spread out the mixture gently to the edge of each circle and form peaks over the top of each pavlova.
- Position both trays in the preheated oven, one on the lower shelf and the other on the medium-high shelf.
- Bake for 5 mins, then immediately turn down the temperature to 150°C/300°F.
- Bake for 40 mins.
- Turn the oven off and leave the oven door slightly open. Allow them to cool down inside the oven as this helps dry them out further. If possible, only remove them once you are ready to decorate.
- Please note that If you live in a high-humidity country, close the oven door to cool down and dry out.
- Break the chocolate into small pieces if not using chocolate chips and add them to a metal bowl that fits over a pot of simmering water.
- Add the butter to the chocolate and without stirring, leave them to melt gently for several minutes.
- When most of the butter and chocolate have melted, only now stir the chocolate sauce. It should look syrupy and glossy. Set aside for decorating later.
- In a small pot, heat the raspberries and sugar gently, stirring often.
- Remove from the heat once the raspberries have broken down and turned into a syrupy sauce.
- If preferred, once cooled, sieve the raspberry sauce to remove the tiny pits and fibres. Set aside.
Decorating the Pavlovas
- Clean, dry and prepare the fresh fruit leaving some whole and some sliced.
- Choose a large platter or wooden board to arrange your pavlovas in a large circle.
- In a deep bowl, whisk the cream until medium-soft peaks form.
- Transfer the cream to a serving bowl and spoon some cream on top of each mini pavlova.
- Decorate with the fresh fruit of your choice.
- Drizzle some with the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Pour any left-over chocolate sauce into a small bowl and position it next to the wreath for those who want the extra sauce.
- Drizzle some raspberry sauce over some of the fruit-topped pavlovas and if preferred, over the chocolate-drizzled pavlovas. Any remaining raspberry sauce can be placed in a small bowl next to the wreath.
- Best served immediately
NOTELeftover yolks can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The spare egg yolks can be used to make lemon curd, mayonnaise, custards etc.
- Undecorate baked pavlovas keep for 3 days in an airtight tin at room temperature.
- Once decorated, pavlovas are best eaten on the same day, although they may be chilled for the next day however some of the fruit may bleed into the whipped cream. They are still edible, just not as pretty to look at!
- Chocolate & raspberry sauce keep for 3 days chilled. The chocolate sauce can be reheated over a bain Marie or in the microwave until syrupy again.
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.