pavlova: light, delicious, perfect

pavlova: the other birthday cake

We eat a lot of birthday cake at the office. Almost daily, songs break out, people flock, and a decadent dessert is devoured in record time.  This week was Lesia's turn. Nothing says "it's that time of year again already?" like a homemade treat and a song.

Pavlova is the other birthday cake in my house. (I married an Australian.) It's a really simple dessert that you can do in advance. It's light, delicious, and versatile - practically perfect (like marrying an Australian). Consider it the dessert equivalent of a pair of Groove Pants.

If channeling your inner domestic goddess is on your list of things to do this year (or you're hosting an Oscar party in the not-too-distant future), I recommend mastering this simple recipe. I modified this one from Gourmet magazine, courtesy of my favourite and yours, Follow it to the letter and achieve amazing results.

before you begin

There are tricks to making it the best it can be. Remember these simple yet important things.

  • Meringue and humidity don't get along. I'll spare you the scientific explanation. Bottom line is you won't get great results. If it's humid where you are, pick another dessert.
  • Room temperature is best. Your egg whites will whip up better if they're at room temperature. (Don't have time to wait? Put those chilly eggs in a bowl with lukewarm water to speed up the process.)
  • Keep it clean. Egg whites have a reputation for being high maintenance. Make sure there is zero egg yolk mingling with the whites and ensure your egg beaters and bowl are squeaky clean.
  • Look but don't touch. It's best to keep the oven door closed as much as possible. Spy on your masterpiece through that handy window.

Single serving pavlovas

Try making single servings. Portion control never looked so good.

tools of the trade

Besides the obvious (oven, electric mixer, baking sheet, parchment paper and your fearless self), here are some things that are nice to have when making pavlova.

  • A piping bag and large open star tip. You can simply spoon the meringue onto parchment to create a carefully disheveled nest or you can pipe your meringue for extra glamour and appeal. Both are lovely. (It's like lip gloss versus lipstick.)
  • A long offset spatula. It has a million uses, one being getting that beautiful meringue off the parchment in one easy swipe.
  • A Microplane zester. It's my favourite gift for my soon-to-be-foodie friends. It makes zesting lemons (and grating hard cheeses, chocolate and spices) a breeze.


So beautiful and so simple

one more thing

Need more reasons to quickly make pavlova for a special occasion?

  • It's easy to make. If you have a standing mixer like this sexy one, you'll be laughing. 
  • It's easy to dress up. Pipe single serving nests or bite-sized ones for a fete. Watch this video at the 2:00 mark to see it done.
  • It's easy to fix mistakes. It didn't work? Grab a martini glass, crumble the meringue, layer on some lemon curd and berries and voila! You're a genius.
  • It's easy to sweat off. OK, there's a bit of whipping cream, but life is about balance and it's really light compared to many desserts. (Training for a marathon? You've probably earned an extra slice anyways.)

Share your pavlova success stories. We're excited to hear how it goes.

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Thank you for posting this!! This is my most favorite dessert that my Aunt from Australia use to make for me all the time!!! Since she’s no longer around, I’ve been dying to find a good recipe!!!


Comment by jenn — February 18, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

You got this one right, kiddo! Even the part about the Australian.

Comment by Jon Congo — February 18, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

Awesome comment, Dad. :) He’s a keeper for sure.

Comment by Elissa Joy — February 18, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

Hi Jenn! I’m glad this post made your day. Enjoy reliving your memories with your aunt!

Comment by Elissa Joy — February 18, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

I love this Liss! Beautifully done!

Comment by marilee congo — February 18, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

This cake was as delish as is it looks! I have the best co-workers ever!! xo

Comment by lesia d. — February 19, 2011 @ 12:04 am

Ever since my mum introduced me to Pavlova cake 5 years ago, I have been demanding it as my birthday cake each year. In fact: I am home this weekend visiting family and my mum is making me some tonight :D

Comment by Laura — February 19, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

I call it Australian, but I know a few Kiwis who would call it a NZ dessert! :)

Comment by Alice — February 19, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

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