A pavlova is an exceptionally stunning dessert. Even before it goes in the oven it is a bright white pillow, so soft and billowy you’d be tempted to lay down your head for a snooze. But baked to a delicate crisp in the oven, it is even more ethereal. The outside is a fine, thin shell just begging to be cracked open to reveal its toasted marshmallow interior.
The true beauty of pavlova however is that the prep time is actually very minimal—few desserts are as pretty and easy to make. You basically just whip some egg white, mound it on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, and set a timer. The pavlova is best if made at least a day in advance (and fine up to even 3 days in advance). So it works splendidly for summer get togethers and weekend parties.
In fact I’d argue that a pavlova is a perfect summer dessert. It complements any fresh, ripe fruit and can be topped with sorbet or ice cream just as easily as whipped cream. And although it looks indulgent it is really very light, when topped with the whipped coconut cream there is no dairy or gluten involved.
The pavlova, composed of just a few simple ingredients, makes an excellent canvas for a cooks individual flair, so have fun with it. Whatever you do choose fruits that are at their peak of flavor and ripeness; fresh berries, stewed rhubarb, or juicy apricots would be good, the adaptations are endless for this very versatile, simply gorgeous dessert.
For the Pavlova:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
For the Tropical Fruit Salad:
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups cubed ripe papaya
- 1 cup cubed ripe pineapple
- 1 kiwi, peeled, quartered, and sliced
- 1/2 cup raspberries
For the Whipped Coconut Cream
- 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat unsweetened coconut milk, chilled overnight in the refrigerator
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted, for garnish
- For the pavlova, heat oven to 300°F and arrange rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 9-inch circle (using a cake pan as a guide) in the middle. Flip the paper over and set aside.
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and ginger in a medium bowl and rub the ginger into the sugar until the ginger is no longer in clumps and the sugar is heavily scented.
- Clean the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment well. Dry them thoroughly and place the egg whites into the bowl with the salt and whip on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form, about 5 minutes.
- Gradually add the sugar mixture and then increase the speed to high. Whip on high speed for 2 minutes. Add lime juice and continue to beat on high until soft, glossy peaks form, 7 to 8 minutes more.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the egg whites into a mound in the center of the parchment circle. Spread the mound to fill the traced circle then create a 3 1/2-inch wide and 1-inch deep well in the center.
- Place on the center rack in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 250°F. Bake until the outside is crisp, about 2 1/2 hours. If the pavlova gets too brown or starts to crack, you can turn the oven down to 200°F. Turn oven off and let pavlova completely cool in the oven, ideally overnight.
- To make the tropical fruit salad, peel the zest off the lime using a vegetable peeler and place in a heatproof liquid measuring cup with the sugar. Add enough boiling water to reach the 1/3 cup line and stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. Remove the lime zest from the syrup and gently toss with the fruit.
- To make the whipped coconut cream, remove the cold cans of coconut milk from the refrigerator. Turn them upside down, open the cans, and pour out the liquid (reserve for another use like smoothies or curry), leaving the thick cream in the can. Scrape the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer, add the vanilla extract, and beat with the whisk attachment until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
- To assemble the dessert, place the pavlova on a serving dish, dollop the coconut cream on top and spoon the fruit over the cream. Sprinkle the top with the toasted coconut and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 144Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 2g