Christmas is getting closer and closer and I’m finalising the menu for our Christmas day lunch. As a good Antipodean, I feel honour bound to include pavlova in some form in the festivities, and these Easy Mini Berry Pavlovas are a serious contender for the table.While Pavlova has been discovered by Instagram and the seemingly the whole world these days, for a long time it was one of our best kept secret recipes from Down Under.
For me pavlova will always conjure memories of childhood, groaningly full of food after a huge Christmas lunch, but with just enough space left for a towering slice of pav, loaded with berries, cream and that most patriotic of fruit, tart, green kiwifruit. In many Kiwi households the leftover pavlova is a traditional Boxing Day breakfast too – if it hasn’t all been eaten!
Us Kiwis and Aussies have a long running rivalry over who exactly invented this delicious dessert, with both sides claiming the crown. Teams of dedicated researchers (Yes! Really!) at major universities in both countries dive ever deeper into historical cookbooks to find the answer, and while we’ll probably never agree, we all know that this tasty sweet treat is an absolute must on every festive table.
I’ve been making pavs for a long time, and I’ve included lots of little helpful techniques that I’ve learned along the way to make sure your pavlova is a success. Happy Baking!
Easy Mini Berry Pavlovas
- 200 g caster / superfine sugar, approx. 1 cup
- 1 Tbsp cornflour / cornstarch
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar, optional
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 400 ml cream
- 2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
- passionfruit pulp, optional
- Heat the oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2. Line an oven tray with baking paper and set aside. Whisk together the sugar and cornflour in a heat-proof bowl and place in the oven to warm while you whisk the eggs.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (note 1) whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt together with 1 tablespoon of cold water until soft peaks form. Take the sugar out of the oven, and with the mixer running whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all used up and the mixture is thick and glossy. Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and continue whisking for 3-4 minutes.
- Using two tablespoons, scoop out big dollops of the meringue mixture, forming 6 mini pavlovas on the oven tray, allowing some room for them to expand. Use a knife or palette knife to flatten the tops, and shape the sides, there’s no need to be overly fussy, just make sure you are happy with the shape. Use a spoon to make a depression in the middle of each pavlova to hold the cream and fruit later.
- Transfer to the middle of the preheated oven and immediately turn the heat down to 110°C / 225°F / Gas ¼. Bake the pavlovas for 1 hour until crisp and dry. They should be a pale ivory colour, if you find they are starting to brown early in the baking process, turn the heat down a little. When the pavlovas are cooked, turn off the heat, prop the oven door slightly ajar using a wooden spoon, and allow to cool completely in the oven, 2-3 hours but overnight is even better.
- Before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks, spoon onto the top of each pavlova and top with berries, kiwifruit and passionfruit if using. Undecorated pavlova will keep in a sealed, dry container for several days so can be made in advance.
TIPS & TRICKS:
While it’s not necessary to warm the sugar before you start, warm sugar will dissolve much easier in the egg white mixture, which means the meringue is more stable and less likely to crack and weep.
Adding a tablespoon of cold water to the egg whites helps to break the structure down a little – they’ll whip up much better this way.
Cream of tartar will create more stable egg whites, but isn’t necessary – do use it if you have it though!
Meringue and pavlova famously hate humidity, so try to make them when it is a little cooler. In saying that, in my part of the world we always make them in high summer when it is very humid and they seem to come out just fine. Plenty of cream and fresh fruit will hide a multitude of sins.
Looking for more festive baking ideas? Try my beautiful and delicious: