How To Make Christmas Pavlova
Start with egg whites in a clean mixer bowl. Pasteurized egg whites don’t work as well, they’ll whip up but the meringue typically collapses in the oven. It’s better to crack fresh ones. Add an acid, cream of tarter here, or swap in lemon juice. The acid stabilizes the meringue.
Beat on medium-low speed until the whites are foamy before starting to slowly add the sugar, a bit at a time, while increasing mixer speed. You don’t want to add air or sugar too quickly, which can compromise the strength of the foam.
Once all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved (feel the mixture with your fingers, it shouldn’t be grainy), add the salt, cornstarch and vanilla extract.
Trace an overturned bowl onto a large sheet of parchment paper to make about a 9″ circle. Flip the paper over and place it on a baking sheet. You’ll be able to see the pencil marks to use as your guide.
This Christmas pavlova is shaped like a wreath. Pipe or spoon the meringue in eight mounds around the circle you’ve drawn, use the backside of a spoon to make dips in each mound (for putting the toppings later) and bake.
What temperature should you cook pavlova?
Pavlova should be cooked at a low temperature for a longer time, and 250ºF is usually perfect. The goal is to produce a crisp exterior that is not browned, and a soft, marshmallowy interior. A higher cooking temperature encourages browning of the outside before the pavlova is set.
How to tell if pavlova is cooked
Pavlova is cooked when the exterior is crisp but not browned and the inside is soft and marshmallowy. Tap the outside and it will sound hard and hollow. If you poke a toothpick in the centre it will come out sticky. To nix any doubt on doneness, let the pavlova cool inside the oven with the oven turned off. This also prevents the pavlova from cracking with an abrupt temperature change.
How early can you put cream on pavlova?
Wait to put the cream on top of the pavlova until just before serving or the meringue will lose its crispness. And of course, hold off until the pavlova is completely cool to put cream on top or your whipped cream will turn to a puddle.
How to store pavlova
Store a plain pavlova base (no cream or fruit) in an airtight container at room temperature for one or two days. Once toppings are added, refrigerate it covered (but for best texture and appearance, add toppings as close to serving as possible.
How far in advance can you make Christmas pavlova?
You can make a pavlova meringue base a day or two in advance and store it at room temperature in an airtight container. You can add cream and fruit up to four hours in advance, but note that the whipped cream will start to loosen and the fruit toppings may start to slide off.
Can pavlova be frozen?
You cannot freeze a pavlova once it has been topped. Freezing the meringue base is possible, but not ideal. Once thawed, it will weep moisture and will lack its crisp exterior. Not to mention it is super fragile will likely emerge broken or with shards cracked off.
Christmas Pavlova Wreath
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature
- 3/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 can E.D.Smith Cherry Pie filling
- Rosemary sprigs optional
- Pomegranate arils optional
- Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Use an overturned 9" cake pan to trace a circle on the parchment, then flip it over so the pencil side is facing down on the baking sheet. Set aside.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Start beating on medium-low until egg whites froth, then increase to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar in a very slow stream (a tablespoon at a time) until glossy, stiff peaks form. Beat in the cornstarch (optional: sift it if it's clumpy), vanilla extract and salt.
- Spoon the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a big round tip. (It's helpful to place the pastry bag inside a tall glass to hold it upright.)
- Hold the pastry bag upright and squeeze to create a mound of meringue. Continue making mounds all around the circle that you traced, to form a wreath. You can always go back and add more meringue to any mound, so don't worry about making them too small or uneven.
- Once you've piped mounds all the way around, use the back of a spoon to create a well in each mound (that's where you'll put the whipped cream and pie filling).
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let it cool inside the oven for 1 hour. The outside will be dry and pale, and the inside will be marshmallowy and soft.
- Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Spoon the whipped cream into the dips you made in the meringue. Top with spoonfuls of cherry pie filling. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and pomegranate arils if desired.