Searching for a show-stopping holiday dessert? Then this festive Christmas Pavlova Wreath from Emma Duckworth is your answer. Simple to make and easily made a day or two ahead of time, the crisp meringue, cream, and fresh berries will make everyone happy. This Christmas Pavlova is almost too pretty to eat, but it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser — your guests will dive right in!
What is Pavlova?
Originating in the 1920’s, Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was touring Australia at the time. The meringue replicated the soft white layers of Anna’s tutu!
Pavlova is made up predominantly of egg whites and sugar. Once whisked until thick and glossy, the egg whites are baked in a low-temperature oven for an extended time. The result is a meringue with a crisp shell on the outside. The interior is soft and marshmallowy or chewy, depending on how long you bake it. It’s sweet and has a divine, melt-in-your-mouth texture. A Pavlova is usually topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit and often drizzled in a coulis or curd. It’s light, sweet and absolutely delicious.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
USES BASIC INGREDIENTS
Can you believe meringue is made with only four ingredients? Along with a sweetened cream and some fresh fruits, it’s a surprisingly simple ingredient list for such a beautiful dessert.
This holiday pavlova makes for such a beautiful, eye-catching centerpiece for your table. Your guests will never guess how easy it is to make!
MAKE AHEAD DESSERT
The meringue and whipped cream can both be made one or two days ahead of time. It only takes 5 minutes to assemble before serving — perfect for entertaining.
This Christmas pavlova can be customized in so many ways. From flavoring the cream to adding different sauces and topping it with various fruits and nuts, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure dessert.
Festive Christmas Pavlova
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar (superfine or caster recommended, see note)
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 4-5 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3-4 oz. white chocolate, melted (optional)
- Fresh red currants
- Fresh raspberries
- Fresh figs, quartered
- Raspberry coulis (optional)
- Heat your oven to 280°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and trace a circle 12 inches in diameter. Then draw an inner circle 4 inches in diameter. Use bowls as guides if necessary. Turn the parchment paper over so that the pen/pencil line is underneath.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip your egg whites on medium-low speed for 3 minutes until they are firm.
- Turn the mixer up to low speed, and while whisking, add the sugar one spoonful at a time, whisking for 10 seconds between spoonfuls. Once all the sugar is added, continue whisking at high speed for 5 more minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and cornstarch and whisk for another 5 minutes. By now, the egg white mixture should be thick and glossy, and the sugar should be fully incorporated. If you rub a bit of mixture between your thumb and finger, there should be no grit as the sugar has fully blended; if there is, then continue whipping for a couple more minutes.
- Spoon the meringue mixture onto your prepared tray between the two pre-drawn circles. Shape the meringue with the back of a spoon and create a small indent for the cream to sit into.
- Place the baking tray in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 230°F and bake for 2 hours. Then turn the temperature off and leave it in the oven for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight, to cool completely. Don't open the oven door!
Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Add the cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract into a bowl and whip until firm peaks form.
Assemble and Decorate
- With a pastry brush, very gently brush the melted chocolate, if using, over the top of the meringue and let it cool until hard.
- Spoon the whipped cream into the indents of the meringue wreath all the way around. Drizzle with raspberry coulis if using, and decorate with red currants, raspberries and figs.
- The meringue base can be made a couple of days beforehand and stored in an airtight container or wrapped several times in cling wrap. Don’t refrigerate. It can be left out at room temperature. Decorate just before serving.
- Use a dry, clean bowl to whip the meringue in.
- Initially, whip egg whites on medium rather than high speed. This helps create more stability in the meringue.
- Check oven temperature. Don't forget to turn the oven temperature down as soon as the meringue goes in.
- Don't open the oven door while the pavlova bakes or cools.
- Caster sugar is preferable to granulated sugar as it dissolves much quicker into the egg whites. To make your own caster sugar, place granulated sugar into the canister of a food processor, blender or spice grinder. (If using a large food processor, ensure enough sugar to cover the blades.) Then pulse a couple of times until the sugar resembles fine sand. Ensure that you don’t pulse too much otherwise, you’ll turn your sugar into confectioners’ sugar.