Pavlova with Cream & Passionfruit

23 April 2014

Post image for Pavlova with Cream & Passionfruit

I hope everyone has had a lovely Easter! This Easter has been a fairly relaxing time for us, a time when we we’ve been able to take advantage of the few days off work to slow down and take things easily. And when it comes to relaxed and stress-free meals, I often tend towards a pavlova for dessert.

This Aussie classic is essentially one large meringue, topped with lashings of whipped cream and decorated with fruit. Admittedly, it’s not a dessert you would indulge in everyday, but a serve of pavlova once in a while never hurt anyone. Plus, there’s fruit, so it must be good for you ;-) Although, we once had a guest who looked rather overwhelmed by the quantity of cream and sugar before him and, in a gesture which crushed my ego a little, declined dessert. Any feelings of pride I had as I ceremoniously brought the pavlova to the table were instantly deflated in this moment, but I quickly perked up when I realised it meant more for me and everyone else!

pavlova 3

A pavlova, if you get it right, can be a very simple dessert to make. If we are having friends over for dinner, I simply make the pavlova first thing in the morning and then leave it unattended until just before serving when I will disappear into the kitchen to whip the cream and prepare the fruit topping. And considering that I always have a stash of egg whites in the freezer, a pavlova can be a fairly economical dessert.

{Some of my many pavlovas before they are ready to go into the oven. If you have egg whites stored in the freezer, you can make a pavlova within minutes with some pantry staples. A chocolate pavlova is a lovely variation.}

{Some of my many pavlovas before they are ready to go into the oven. If you have egg whites stored in the freezer, you can make a pavlova within minutes with some pantry staples. A chocolate pavlova is a lovely variation.}

Perhaps what some people find intimidating about making a pavlova is that it can be prone to failure. The secret lies in understanding the food science behind making a meringue. If you start adding the sugar before the egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage, or if you beat the egg whites for too long and are too far beyond the stiff peak stage, your meringue mixture will be soft and runny and won’t have hold its shape once on the baking tray. If you don’t properly incorporate the sugar until it dissolves, your pavlova may weep and fail to rise magnificently; it may even collapse. If you open the oven door too soon, the sudden change in temperature may also cause your pavlova to fall and crumble. Even making a pavlova in humid temperatures can be problematic.

All of the aforementioned has happened to me in my quest to master this dessert. But practice makes perfect, and once you get an idea of what the beaten egg whites should look and feel like before you add the sugar and the rest of the ingredients, making pavlova will become second nature to you.

pavlova 2

In Australia and New Zealand, it is common to serve pavlova topped with all sorts of fruit – kiwi and banana is a popular combination from my childhood. And I know some insist on sprinkling over crushed bars of Peppermint Crisp. Lately, it has been en vogue to skip the fruit altogether and to up the sugar content by decorating the pavlova with toppings such as honeycomb and salted caramel sauce.

I prefer to use fruits which are somewhat tart to cut through the sweetness and richness of the dessert, so I often resort to fresh passionfruit, although raspberries and strawberries are also wonderful when they are in season. Once you start making pavlova as often as I do, you will find yourself experimenting with different fruits anyway, not least to give yourself an excuse to make a pavlova again and again.

Pavlova with Cream & Passionfruit
Serves 3-4

pavlova-recipe1

Cook’s Notes

When making a meringue or pavlova, using the egg whites of old eggs is preferable to those of really fresh eggs. What works really well are frozen egg whites. Simply freeze 2 or 3 egg whites per freezer bag for quick defrosting and let them come to room temperature before using.

Some people like their pavlova to be crisp on the outside with a slightly chewy centre. Others like their pavlova to be only slightly crisp on the outside, but soft and marshmallowy on the inside. I belong to the first group. If you fall into the latter group, bake your pavlova for only about 45 minutes to 1 hour, and leave it to cool in the oven for only a few hours.

Although a nicely domed pavlova looks lovely when naked and unadorned, it’s not very practical if you plan to cover it with whipped cream as it will simply run down the sides. So make sure the top of the pavlova is somewhat flattened before you put it in the oven.

If something goes wrong and your pavlova collapses into a flat pancake once cooled, don’t despair – your pavlova will still taste great. Simply crumble the pavlova into a large serving bowl, stir through the whipped cream and passionfruit and you will have something similar to an Eton Mess which is traditionally made with strawberries.

It’s normal if the top of your pavlova cracks as it cools. And don’t worry because you will be covering it with whipped cream anyway.

If you’re not sure what soft peaks, firm peaks or stiff peaks mean when it comes to beating egg whites, this guide might help you.

Kitchenware Notes

The cake stand used in the above photos is from Sophie Conran which you can purchase from her online shop. And if you enter the code eatlittlebird10 at the checkout, you will receive a 10% discount off your purchase :-) Please see this post for more details.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline @ The Patterned Plate 23 April 2014 at 1:06 pm

Passionfruit to date, is the best fruit to top a pavlova with. Raspberries a close second. And this comes from someone who isn’t an overly huge pavlova fan, but has a husband who is. It’s often the most requested dessert folk as me to bring or make for dinner. And it always looks incredibly impressive, no? I feel for you; that guest’s reaction wasn’t quite polite, especially if his face betrayed his horror. It’s not happened yet but when it does (happens to everyone at some point) I know I’ll wanna Indian head slap him/her!

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Eat, Little Bird 23 April 2014 at 1:17 pm

Ah ha! It was the first time I had ever had a guest decline dessert in my home, but I’ve always felt it was his loss ;-) But I’ve also seen others look weary about the amount of cream but still go on to enjoy dessert. Or perhaps they were being polite! Maybe you sort of need to grow up with pavlova in your childhood to really appreciate it. And yes, I love that a pavlova always look so ceremonious on a cake stand when you’ve actually done so little to it. You must make a great pav if it’s one of your most popular desserts!

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Caroline @ The Patterned Plate 23 April 2014 at 5:23 pm

While I’d LOVE to take on your compliment, I can’t! I used to make an ace one in Aberdeen but it’s harder here. I blame the humidity. My meringues end up collapsing, though I am quite careful about the sugar dissolving into the meringue. I think the heat of my cavernous oven might be the culprit as it doesn’t come down in temperature fast enough (not temp sensitive at all), thus causing the meringue to rise quickly but destabilise in the end :( I chuckled at your rescue recipe cos I’ve done that before too! I made one a couple of months ago that worked nicely, so it’s a matter of tuning the time really. Must have another go soon.

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Eat, Little Bird 23 April 2014 at 9:15 pm

Yes, I agree that humidity can be a factor, something which has happened to me too. Which is a shame because pavlova is a dessert which you are more likely to make in summer than at other times of the year. But I think I’ve made pavlova often enough now to know timings which work well for my kitchen. All of this makes a pavlova to sound really difficult and fickle, so I’m grateful that I can now categorise it as an easy go-to dessert for me :-)

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Shazza 23 April 2014 at 1:19 pm

Pav with both Banana and Passionfruit is the way I was bought up and it still my favourite combination and I can hear my Gran to this day ‘under no circumstances do you sweeten the cream, let the meriange loveliness do its sweet stuff, just off set with a sharp fruit’ now who’s to argue with that whispering in your ear!! I have also had people comment, but did decided to give it a go and low and behold if ever I see them they say “you are bringing a Pavlova, arnt you?”

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Eat, Little Bird 23 April 2014 at 9:20 pm

I like the sound of banana with passionfruit – I might try that next time! I’m not sure about you, but my first pavlova was made using Pavlova Magic! And this was taught to us in Home Economics! That’s so lovely that people request you to make a pavlova … I’m still waiting for that day ;-)

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 23 April 2014 at 7:11 pm

Passionfruit is such a cool little fruit that I have yet to make anything with. TOTALLY trying this!

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Eat, Little Bird 23 April 2014 at 9:20 pm

I absolutely love passionfruit in desserts. Good luck making a pavlova and let me know how it turns out :-)

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Maria @ Box of Stolen Socks 23 April 2014 at 10:53 pm

Thank you for the recipe and most of all for the cook’s tips! Invaluable advice! You mentioned that you use frozen egg whites. I never knew you could freeze egg whites! Does it affect their ability to stiffen enough without the addition of cream of tartar or cornflour?

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Eat, Little Bird 23 April 2014 at 11:33 pm

I always freeze egg whites – a handy tip I got from reading Nigella’s cookbooks :-) I generally freeze them in small bags of 2 or 3 so I can defrost them quickly. According to Harold McGee in his book, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, old eggs are preferable to fresh eggs when making a meringue or pavlova as the whites of old eggs are thinner and, therefore, foam more quickly and produce more volume. Vinegar is used in this recipe which helps to stabilise the meringue. I think the cornflour, together with the vinegar, helps to produce the chewy centre of the pavlova. I hope this helps!

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Julian 24 April 2014 at 2:13 am

Love your work and photography! That passionfruit pavlova looks absolutely amazing. As a personal trainer I am all for eating healthy and minimising sugar intake, however that being said the occasional treat helps to keep your mental strength up, which allows you to “be good” and make healthy choices the other 95% of the time. I thoroughly enjoyed a eating some Pavlova at a family BBQ last weekend while celebrating Easter – with my one and only regret being that there was nothing left over for seconds. I must admit a special fondness for mixed berries and kiwi fruit along with passionfruit atop a pav, probably because that was what was served the first time I ever tried one. I’ve never tried a chocolate pavlova and may make that my request for my birthday this year.

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Eat, Little Bird 24 April 2014 at 10:35 am

Thank you, Julian! That means a lot to me, considering that you were the one who inspired me to pick up a DSLR camera in the first place and have been so helpful with your tips on camera and lens choices :-) I agree with your philosophy that an occasional treat can be a good thing, especially if you are eating healthily the rest of the time. And if you are to indulge, you may as well enjoy it! I think you might really like a chocolate pavlova … I hope to share my recipe soon. Love to you and your family!

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Paula 24 April 2014 at 11:31 am

So cute!!!!!!

So big, and tall, and… delicious. Even if I’m soooo clumsy, my pavlovas never fails, but, they’re not very cute, you know, I make a mess when I try to form them in the oven tray. I take best results if I use a baking ring, but it’s no so natural and pretty.

Since I was a child I love meringue, so you can imagine what is for me such a simple dessert!! I usuallly use leftover yolks of the meringue to server with some fruit curd, but this is quick and easy, I love (and I can use yolks to make an ice cream :P).

I get the idea of using kiwi. I love that fruit, but I never use to prepare anything, only with strawberries, cereals or some yogurt. Silly me!!

Have a nice end of week, Thanh!!!

PD: Oh, someone reject dessert!! Of couse, that’s good you think positive, more for you!! :P

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Eat, Little Bird 24 April 2014 at 3:59 pm

Thanks, Paula!

Practice makes perfect ;-) You can see from my collage of pavlovas above that some are better shaped than others, and that some have better volume than others. But even if they don’t look great when they come out of the oven, they always look stunning once covered with cream and fruit.

I’ve also loved meringue since I was a child. When I’m far too tired to make dessert but I know I want something sweet, I will buy a bag of meringues from a good bakery and just eat it plain … it takes me right back to my childhood!

P.S. Yes, how could anyone reject dessert?? I’ve been too scared to invite this person back ;-)

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Patricia Scarpin 24 April 2014 at 3:00 pm

Your pavs look amazing! I love the passion fruit topping, it’s a fruit we love here in Brazil. I’ll have special friends over for dinner Saturday and a pavlova is a wonderful idea for dessert!

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Eat, Little Bird 24 April 2014 at 4:02 pm

Thank you! If you like passionfruit, then it’s hard to go pass a pavlova topped with this fragrant fruit. Good luck with the pavlova and I hope your friends will enjoy it!

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Renee @ AFS 24 April 2014 at 9:09 pm

This pavlova looks beautiful! I love the combination of it with passion fruit, must be so tasty. Totally agree with you that once in a while pavlova for dessert is a must.

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Eat, Little Bird 25 April 2014 at 10:52 am

Thank you! I’m already looking forward to my next pavlova :-)

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Anita Menon 27 April 2014 at 11:56 am

I made Pavlova once with kiwi and pomegranate. It looked great no doubt from the outside. Inside it was a bit foamy and eggy to taste. Is that how it is usually? I would love to know how it tastes and looks from the inside.

Yours looks divine and perfect.

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Eat, Little Bird 27 April 2014 at 12:49 pm

Thanks, Anita! There are two thoughts on how a pavlova should be. Some believe it should be crisp like a meringue with a slightly chewy centre, whilst others think a pavlova should be softer with a foamier interior similar to a marshmallow. Your pavlova sounds like one in the latter category, or maybe it was a bit undercooked as it shouldn’t be eggy to taste.

I like my pavlova to be in between both extremes – crisp on the outside with some softness in the interior and a chewy centre. Much depends on how long you bake your pavlova and let it dry in the oven.

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Nisha 27 April 2014 at 1:15 pm

Thank you SO much for this yummy, informative and beautiful post. I will try this pav (first time pav maker!) this coming weekend. I am so inspired by your blog and first started cooking from it when hubby and I were first married. I’m now 8 months pregnant in ‘nesting’ phase and loving your recipes. Some of our faves are the braised chicken with potatoes and beans, lemongrass beef skewers, choc pound cake and carrot cake. Just wanted to say I (we) really love and appreciate your blog-you’re amazing! – Nisha, Australia

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Eat, Little Bird 27 April 2014 at 2:23 pm

Oh thank you so much, Nisha :-) Your lovely comment just brightened this grey and rainy day in Zurich :-) It’s always lovely to hear what some of the favourite recipes are for my readers as it’s great to know if and when others find them useful.

I hope you have been keeping well during your pregnancy. Enjoy this final month before your bundle of joy arrives!

A pavlova is such a classic dessert in Australia so I hope you will enjoy your first attempt at making one. It was the first thing I made when I bought my KitchenAid mixer and now my little boy loves to stand on a stool and watch the KitchenAid in action whenever I make a pavlova :-)

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Involtini di Peperone 5 May 2014 at 11:11 pm

Wow…pavlova: my fave!

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Rushi 6 May 2014 at 1:37 pm

Thanh your pavlova is simply stunning and sooooo tall. I’ve only made baby ones here in France and they turned out well. Just need to make the larger version soon. Never attempted pavs back home at my mom’s, I suppose if I did I’d have the same problems as Carrie with the humidity. I love chocolate pavs with strawberries and raspberries. Anyway I will give it a go at my mom’s too when I visit and top it with those gorgeous pineapples. Yum!

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Eat, Little Bird 24 May 2014 at 9:44 pm

Pavlova with pineapple sounds delicious! If you’re used to making small pavlovas, a large one would hardly require anymore effort :-) Hope you have been well xx

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Gourmet Getaways 7 May 2014 at 1:47 pm

Nicely presented. Glad you added some info on the cake stand. Thanks!!

Julie
Gourmet Getaways

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Eat, Little Bird 24 May 2014 at 9:46 pm

Thanks, Julie! Glad you like the cake stand too :-)

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Nancy @ gottagetbaked 11 May 2014 at 6:08 am

Ooooh pavlovas sound so darn finicky! This would be another dessert (like that darn choux pastry ;) that would likely get the better of me. For now, I’ll just enjoy swooning over your beautiful photos, Thanh. Your pavlova is seriously the tallest one I’ve ever seen. It’s perfect! And while I’m a total sugar-holic (and type II diabetic in the making) I’m glad you stuck with fruit instead of covering it with more sugar. The fruit totally makes this a health food!

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Eat, Little Bird 24 May 2014 at 9:48 pm

Oh a pavlova is a walk in a park compared to that choux pastry! ;-) I’m also proud of my tall pavlovas, but much depends on the humidity, I think!

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