This pavlova has the best of it all – crisp outside, pillowy soft middle and topped with fresh whipped cream and juicy raspberries. Such a great dessert.
There are a few recipes that I have shared here that I associate with childhood, like bobotie, fish pie and moussaka. Dessert-wise, I think the one that really sticks is pavlova, and it’s still a big favorite.
What is pavlova?
Pavlova is essentially egg white and sugar beaten up together. It’s similar to meringues, but to me, better. You get the meringue’s delicious light crispness but also a soft, pillowy center.
Topped with raspberries and cream, the sweet fruit and rich cream balance out the sweetness and crunch perfectly. All in all it’s a beautiful, delicious dessert.
True, it’s not exactly the healthiest, but it’s a treat that has to be done once in a while. I have reduced the sugar in this version a bit without any real impact on flavor.
My memories of pavlova
When I say I have memories of eating my mum’s pavlova, while I remember it as a child, one of my best memories is actually eating this when visiting one time as an adult.
My parents live in Edinburgh which hosts a big arts festival every summer – hundreds of theatre, music and comedy productions are put on in every space that could possibly be considered a stage across the city and the population of the city doubles.
Many locals, at least if they are based centrally, actually move out for the duration and rent out their homes. My parents are on the outskirts, though, so instead have played host to me and various friends over the years when I was living further South (as well as enjoying the odd show in the festival themselves, of course).
One year when I was visiting with friends, there was one night we had stayed in town rather than return for dinner. My mum mentioned she had made a raspberries and cream-topped pavlova and left the rest for us in the fridge if we wanted it when we came back.
It may not have been typical, but it made for the most fantastic midnight snack. I still vividly remember the three of us stood in the kitchen devouring it, trying not to wake my parents!
Where does the name pavlova come from?
Pavlova is said to have been developed by a chef in honor of the ballerina Anna Pavlova touring Australia and New Zealand and it’s very common as a dessert in both. I kind of like the thought of the light and airy meringue being a bit like a tutu – maybe it’s a way I can make up for my inability to be that good at ballet as a child.
It can have various toppings – my mum also made a nice version topped with lemon curd and whipped cream – but a raspberry version has a particular place in my heart and I love the color and freshness they give.
A pavlova perfect for a smaller group
One thing I often find with making pavlova, which is partly why I rarely do it, is they are usually far too big for us to get through in a sensible time before it goes gooey; most recipes serve 6-8.
On the flip-side, I didn’t want to make individual pavlovas as I do love to have that balance of soft, pillowy fluffiness in the middle and the crisp outside that to me distinguishes pavlova from meringue. So instead I have made a smaller-sized pavlova that’s about right for 4 servings.
Tips for making pavlova
Making pavlova is pretty easy if you watch a couple things – make sure your egg whites are whisked until stiff (but not over-beaten), then gradually add your sugar (not all at once). Bake it in a low oven, and leave it in the oven after you have turned it off to cool down gradually.
All of these help you get a good rise and texture, and not too many cracks (as you can see I still got some after it cooled, and mine rose up in the middle but it’s hard to be totally perfect).
Pavlova with raspberries and cream is the kind of dessert that’s perfect any time. The wonderful balance of crunch and soft fluffiness, the cream and raspberries mingling in is just so delicious, it is hard to beat. It’s certainly a dessert I’d be glad to eat on mother’s day, or any other excuse I could find, and I am sure you will enjoy it too.
Pavlova with raspberries and cream
- 2 egg whites large
- 3 1/2 oz granulated sugar 100g
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch cornflour
- 1/2 tsp wine vinegar white best but red fine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream 120ml double or whipping cream
- 1/2 cup raspberries 65g, plus extra to decorate- around 8
- Preheat the oven to 300F/150C and line a baking sheet/tray with parchment paper that's at least 8in/20cm square.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks - the way to know if they are stiff enough is if you try to tip the bowl, if they slide they are not stiff enough, if they don't, they are fine. Avoid beating beyond this point as you may over-beat.
- Gradually add the sugar 1tbsp at a time, beating in after each addition, until it is all added and the mixture is glossy.
- Add the vanilla, cornstarch and vanilla, whisk in then turn the mixture out into the middle of the parchment-lined tray. Form a circle about 6-7in/15-18cm in diameter with a slight dip in the middle.
- Bake in the preheated oven, in the middle of the oven, for approximately 45-50 minutes until it is lightly golden and dry to touch. It will seem crisp when touched (although be gentle so you don't break it). Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova inside with the door closed for a further 50min-1 hour. This will help avoid it sinking and cracking.
- Up to around 2hrs before serving, carefully remove the parchment from the bottom of the pavlova and place on a serving plate.
- Whip the cream until lightly whipped (soft peaks) then add the raspberries - if using a stand mixture you can probably put them in whole, with a hand mixture you'll need to break them up a bit first. Beat a little more until combined and semi-firm.
- Pour the cream mixture into the middle of the pavlova and carefully spread out so you still have a good 1in/3cm or so without cream round the edge. Top with the extra raspberries. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
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