Simple Customizable Pavlova 2.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Apr 17, 2019

If you want a fancy-looking dessert that takes very little effort, pavlova is the answer. With four ingredients, a bowl, a handheld mixer and about 15 minutes of hands-on time, you can produce mounds of meringue with a crisp exterior and a marshmallowy center.

Top them with as little or as much as you like. We liked the combination shown in the accompanying photo: lightly sweetened whipped cream, lemon curd, berries and aromatic herbs. Chocolate or fruit sauces, dulce de leche, sour cream and fresh herbs are all good options as well.

The assembled dessert might get a bit messy and soggy the longer it sits, but leftovers are still delicious the next day.

You can make the meringue with a stand mixer, but a handheld model allows you to move the beaters around freely to better incorporate the sugar.

Make Ahead: The pavlova needs to dry in the oven overnight; store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. It can be stored with its parchment paper attached.

Where to Buy: Superfine sugar (also known as castor sugar) is available at most supermarkets, but you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar in the food processor. If you do grind your own, start by processing a few more tablespoons than this recipe calls for.

2 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-4 servings

  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature (see NOTE)
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a pencil and a 5-inch template (such as a small saucepan lid) to trace a circle on the parchment; turn the paper over.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a handheld mixer or stand mixer (fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment). Start on low speed and gradually increase to high, beating for about 1 minute, until the egg whites begin to get quite foamy. With the mixer running, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, to form a smooth and satiny meringue that holds a stiff peak. Move around the beaters of your hand mixer or scrape down the sides of your stand mixer bowl to fully incorporate the sugar. Make sure the sugar has almost completely dissolved by testing a little meringue between your fingers; if it feels overly grainy, beat until smooth. (Some granules are okay.) Remove the beaters.

Sift the cornstarch on top of the meringue in the bowl, then add the vinegar, gently folding in those two ingredients until completely incorporated.

Pile the meringue onto the parchment at the center of the traced circle, using a spatula to push from the center until the meringue fills the space. (This does not have to be precise; the pile should be about 2 1/2 inches high, with a slight peak.) Bake (middle rack) for 1 hour and 15 minutes; the pavlova will be puffed and slightly golden; a few cracks are okay.

Turn off the oven and use the handle of a long spoon to keep the oven door ajar. Let the pavlova dry in the oven overnight.

To serve, you can gently collapse the center of the pavlova to top it with fruit, whipped cream, curd, etc.

NOTE: To warm up chilled eggs, place them (whole) in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from food writer David Hagedorn.

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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