I’m going to try my hardest to convince you to make something. That something is these mini pavlovas. Yes, I get it. Pavlovas sound super fancy and they look incredibly delicate. It’s something you would almost certainly order out.
But, I’m going to lift the veil on this dessert once and for all and hopefully I can get some of you to take the plunge and try this because it’ll be the best dessert you make this summer unless you make a ton of desserts, in which case I probably don’t need to convince you to make a pavlova.
When I first made these for my son when he was very young, he would pick up the mini pavlovas with his hands and dive in. He called it “two white cake” because there was the light cake (meringue) which is white, but then also whipped cream, which is white. The mind of a toddler!
So, let’s think of this as “two white cake” which sounds much more doable than pavlova. Am I right?
But seriously, trust me when I say that these are easier than you think. Super promise that you can make these if you have a hand mixer or stand mixer to do the egg white part. It’s actually a perfect starter recipe if you’ve never worked with meringue before because it’s very forgiving.
What is a Pavlova dessert?
A pavlova is traditionally a dessert a made from whipped egg whites that are baked into a light and airy meringue. After the meringue is set in the oven, you can top the dessert with a mix of light toppings from whipped cream to fruit.
Traditionally, pavlova are served as one big cake and then you cut into it for serving. These mini pavlovas are an updated twist on the classic.
How to make sure the pavlova is set
While you can, in theory, whip the egg whites for these pavlovas by hand, it’s much easier if you have a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Either will work fine and you want to beat the egg whites until they hold peaks. The peaks don’t need to be completely stiff, but should roughly hold their shape.
I’m very far from a professional chef and even further away from a professional pastry chef. And yet… I can do egg whites by beating the bejesus out of them until they hold stiff peaks and then baking them in a low oven. You can too.
Start with just the egg whites (be careful to have NO egg yolks and it helps to have room temperature egg whites). Beat them on medium-high speed with a whisk attachment if you’re using a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer but it’ll take a bit longer) with a pinch of salt until they start to foam.
Then you can add the other ingredients. Add the sugar in 3-4 batches and mix it in slowly before adding more so it can dissolve.
You’re done when the egg whites hold their shape and are really glossy smooth. Like this.
Baking the Pavlovas
If you want to make one big pavlova you can just scoop this onto a baking sheet, but I like the mini pavlovas. They aren’t that much more work and are really fun to serve.
Start these in a 300 degrees F. oven so they form a nice crust, but then turn the oven down to 250 F. Bake the mini pavlovas for 50-60 minutes until they are firm and light. If you’re in doubt about their doneness, leave them in for a few extra minutes.
Then remove them and when they cool you’ll be able to pick them up. They should be firm, but if you crack them a bit, they should give a bit in the center like a marshmallow almost.
My Toppings for Pavlovas
You’ll have lots of time to make the other stuff while the pavlovas cook. You can mix some berries (almost any will work, but I like a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) with some sugar.
I don’t like to cook mine so they are really fresh and bright so I just let them sit for 20 minutes with the sugar and they will break down a bit. Other common fruits that can go on pavlova desserts are mango, kiwi, even lemon curd if you want to get fancy!
I also like to serve these mini pavlovas with a layer of whipped cream! I just hand whipped some heavy whipping cream with sugar and almond extract (you could also use vanilla).
Can you make Pavlovas in advance?
If you want to make these in advance, that’s totally fine. Just make sure to cool them completely and then wrap them in plastic and store them in an airtight container. I’d recommend eating them the same day though or maybe the next day.
To serve them, crack into the pavlova a bit and then top with whipped cream and berries. Be generous. The “two white cakes” are light and perfect on a hot summer day.
You’re family will think it’s a special treat, and maybe it is, but it’s a very doable special treat so make it happen!
Triple Berry Mini Pavlovas
- 4 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups mixed berries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Fresh mint, garnish
- For Pavlovas:
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a stand mixer, add egg whites and a pinch of salt. Mix with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until it gets foamy. Then add in sugar in 3-4 batches along with cornstarch and almond extract. Continue to whisk meringue mixture on high speed until it forms very stiff peaks that are glossy and smooth.
- Divide mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into six even mounds.
- Once pavlovas go in the oven, reduce heat to 250 degrees F. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the pavlovas are completely set on the outside and very slightly browned around the edges. If in doubt, leave them in an extra 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Meanwhile, stir together berries with sugar. I like a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Make whipped cream why whipping together heavy whipping cream with sugar and almond extract.
- To serve mini pavlovas, use a spoon to crack into one a bit, making a well in the center. Then spoon in whipping cream and top with berries.
- Pavlovas will store okay at room temperature, covered loosely, for one day. Top right before serving.