Christmas Pavlova Recipe – a wreath-shaped meringue cake with whipped cream, cranberry topping and pomegranate arils. A beautiful dessert for the holidays!
Fans of meringue desserts, I have a simple yet impressive dessert idea just for you! This wreath-shaped Pavlova is crispy on the outside and light and chewy inside. It’s topped with freshly whipped cream and thick cranberry sauce. A few pomegranate arils are little tiny jewels, shining on this beauty.
This Christmas Pavlova is easy to make but requires planning. Whipping egg whites takes about 10 minutes, the cake bakes for 1 hour and 15 minutes and then needs to dry for at least 1 hour in the turned-off oven, with the door slightly ajar. You can make the cake and cranberry sauce up to 2 days in advance.
HOW TO MAKE PAVLOVA WREATH?
- Start by preparing the baking sheet. Line it with a sheet of parchment paper. Take an 8″ cake pan and trace it with a pencil right on the parchment. Turn the paper over so the cake won’t be directly on the pencil circle. You will still be able to see it. Make sure your egg whites are room temperature.
- In a clean and dry medium mixing bowl, place egg whites. With clean and dry hand mixer beaters, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. It is very important that all tools that touch the egg whites are clean and dry. If there is any trace of oil or water on your bowl or mixer paddle attachments, the egg whites won’t whip properly.
- Start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whip until the mixture is glossy and thick, and the peaks are stiff. You may run out of sugar before the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Take your time and don’t be rushed. Stop occasionally to check the peaks. Stir in vanilla, cornstarch and lemon juice, if using.
- Scoop the meringue with ice cream scoop, following the shape of the circle on parchment paper. Use a spatula to smooth out the top and outside edge to connect the mounds.
- Bake Pavlova in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Carefully open the oven door and stick a woode spoon in the door. Leave the cake inside like that for 1 hour to dry and set. Decorate when ready.
TIPS FOR MAKING A PERFECT PAVLOVA:
- clean bowl and mixer beaters: it is crucial when making meringue. Any trace of water or grease on the bowl or beaters and your egg whites won’t beat properly. Wash in very warm water, wipe dry and follow by a paper towel to make sure it’s clean and dry.
- room temperature egg whites: pull out the eggs from fridge and let sit on the counter to come to room temperature. It is best to break them by tapping against a flat surface before cracking the shell and separating the egg yolks and whites.
- patience and planning: make sure you are not rushed to make this cake. You have to whip the egg whites with sugar until the mixture is glossy, thick and the peaks are stiff (See photo above). Plan ahead as the dessert takes about 15 minutes to prepare, 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake and it has to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Make sure you don’t have to use your oven in the meantime.
WHAT IS PAVLOVA?
Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after a Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The dessert was created in Australia, in honor of the ballerina during one of her tours. Classic Pavlova is a crispy meringue shell cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It can be baked in a single layer, a wreath-shaped cake (like this one) or mini individual desserts.
DO I NEED CORNSTARCH AND VINEGAR FOR PAVLOVA?
The purpose of cornstarch and vinegar in Pavlova is to stabilize the whipped egg whites. I often do not use either, just like in meringue cookies. If you whip the egg whites and sugar together until the mixture is glossy, thick and the peaks are stiff (see photo for visual reference), the meringue will bake perfectly. You can add the vinegar (or lemon juice) and cornstarch if desired.
HOW TO TELL IF PAVLOVA IS DONE?
Gently touch the cake. If it appears dry and you can see cracks on the top and sides, the Pavlova is done. Let the cake cool completely. At this point, you can keep it un-decorated for up to 2 days. Do not top with whipped cream until you are ready to serve it.
CAN YOU MAKE PAVLOVA IN ADVANCE?
Yes! You can make and bake the Pavlova up to 2 days ahead. Keep it in a dry place, not a fridge. Do not top with whipped cream until serving. Whipped cream will “melt” all over the cake if kept too long. The cranberry sauce should be made ahead of time as well. It needs to be thick and room temperature (or better, cold) before topping.
- lemon raspberry: top Pavlova with lemon curd, then whipped cream and raspberry jam or pie filling on top.
- chocolate caramel: top Pavlova with whipped cream, then drizzle with caramel sauce and melted cooled chocolate. Dress up with shaved chocolate.
- cherry: top Pavlova with whipped cream and cherry pie filling.
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- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
- 1.5 cups whipped cream
- 1 cup cranberry jam or thick sauce recipe in notes
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Make sure your egg whites are room temperature.
Line a large 11" x 17" baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Take an 8″ cake pan and trace it with a pencil right on the parchment. Turn the paper over so the cake won’t be directly on the pencil circle. You will still be able to see it.
Measure out the sugar. Prepare vanilla, cornstarch and lemon juice.
In a clean and dry medium mixing bowl, place egg whites and salt. With clean and dry hand mixer beaters, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. It is very important that all tools that touch the egg whites are clean and dry. If there is any trace of oil or water on your bowl or mixer paddle attachments, the egg whites won’t whip properly.
Start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Whip until the mixture is glossy and thick, and the peaks are stiff. You may run out of sugar before the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Take your time and don’t be rushed. Stop occasionally to check the peaks. When the peaks are stiff, stir in vanilla, cornstarch and lemon juice, if using.
Scoop the meringue mixture with ice cream scoop on the prepared baking sheet, following the shape of the circle. With an offset spatula, connect the mounds of meringue, especially on the outside.
Bake Pavlova in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the timer is up, turn off the oven, open door just slightly and stick a wooden spoon between the door. Leave the cake inside for 1 hour to dry and set.
Gently touch the cake. If it's dry and has cracks on top and sides, gently remove it onto a serving plate. If serving right away, decorate with whipped cream, thick cranberry sauce or pie filling and pomegranate arils.
To make a homemade thick cranberry sauce (perfect as jam or filling for cakes), combine 6 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white sugar in small saucepan. Cook until the cranberries pop. Simmer until the mixture is thick. Cool completely. It's best to make this sauce at least a day ahead. Use cold to decorate the Pavlova cake.
The nutritional value does not include the cranberry sauce above.