This pavlova with fresh berries is a cloud of sweet, crisp, chewy meringue made with egg whites and sugar and topped with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. Elegant, gorgeous, and unbelievably easy to assemble.
Adapted from Karen Morgan | Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free | Chronicle Books, 2010
Pavlova knows no religious affiliations, creating a stunning flour-free dessert for Passover as well as a classic last course for Easter. The fact that it’s inherently gluten-free means all the more reason to be fancy-free in terms of indulging, whatever your spiritual beliefs.–Karen Morgan
Mixed Berry Pavolva FAQs
What are some tips for making meringue?
If you’ve never made meringue before (or if you have and it didn’t go well), you might be intimidated by this lovely, ethereal dessert. But have no fear, it’s less magic and more know-how.
Eggs that are a little older tend to whip up fluffier and sturdier than very fresh ones. (Place an uncracked egg in a glass of water—if it stands up on one end but doesn’t float to the top, it’s perfect for pavlova.)
Make absolutely, positively certain there’s no oil or fat in the bowl or egg whites. Even the smallest amount will keep your meringue from whipping.
Use a metal or glass bowl (they’re easier to clean than plastic) and be very careful separating your eggs.
Finally, use eggs at room temperature. You can separate them straight from the fridge (some people feel it’s easier to separate cold eggs) and then let the whites come to room temp before you start. You’ve got this.
Can I substitute other types of fruit for the berries?
Definitely. Fresh sliced peaches or nectarines would work beautifully here. To make pavlova with fresh stone fruits, simply toss the sliced fruit with a little lemon juice and a teaspoon or so of sugar to prevent them from turning a dingy shade of brown.
Pavlova with Fresh Berries
For the meringue
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 6 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the sweetened whipped cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups mixed fresh fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, red currants, red or green gooseberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries
Make the meringue
- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a pencil to trace a 12-inch round on the paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch until smooth.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they begin to froth and turn opaque. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the sugar mixture in 1/2-cup increments. Immediately add the vinegar, return to high speed, and beat until stiff peaks form, at least 2 minutes.
- Pour the boiling water into the egg whites all at once. The egg whites will swell up. Beat the egg whites until the water is totally incorporated, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Reach for a rubber spatula and carefully fill in the base of the traced circle with some of the meringue. Continue to add the meringue, fashioning fancy swoops and swirls, until you to have a thick layer that sort of resembles a cake. Bake the meringue for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 200°F (93°C) and bake for 40 minutes more.
- Remove the meringue from the oven, place the baking sheet on a wire rack, and let it cool completely. Once cool, gently remove the parchment paper by rolling it out from under the meringue. Take care as the meringue will be very delicate.
Make the sweetened whipped cream
- In a large, deep bowl, beat the cream until it begins to hold its shape. Add the sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until soft peaks form.
Assemble the Pavlova
- Carefully spread the whipped cream in a thick layer over the top of the meringue, and top with the mixed fresh fruit. Serve at once, presenting it at the table and then cutting it into wedges.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Wow! Is this pavlova with fresh berries is a show stopper! It makes such a pretty presentation that would be perfect for a ladies’ lunch or Mother’s Day or a “just because berries are in season” dessert. My kids even enjoyed this pavlova. I especially loved the texture of the edges, which remind me of the perfect macaron—crunchy and chewy at the same time.
Remember if you’re using a convection oven to shut off the convection setting because the fan should not be blowing on your beautiful fluffy creation!
It took a while to make the meringue and I whipped the cream and prepared the berries during the bake time. All of the timing recommendations in the recipe were correct. This is my first time making a pavlova so I am not sure if the center is supposed to be fluffy? I used raspberries because they are a family favorite.
There is something so appealing about berry-topped pavlova. Crisp meringue with a soft pillowy interior, swirling layers of sweetened whipped cream, and a final layer of fresh abundant berries or seasonal fruits. Simply sinfully delightful. The meringue whips up beautifully and swirls up impressively when spread on the parchment. The addition of both vanilla and almond extract gives the cream a lovely nutty taste and fresh berries are always delicious.
The meringue around the edges was crisp and light but the center was spongy and more like a meringue on a lemon pie. I made the meringue in the morning and assembled it for dessert that evening so it had most of the day to cool.
I live at a high altitude and I did find this method of adding the hot water during the whipping resulted in a loftier meringue than I’ve gotten from other recipes. I’d prefer to bake the meringue at a lower heat for a longer time and then leaving it in the oven to cool.
Originally published April 1, 2010
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I’m a bit ashamed to admit, as an Australian, that I’ve never quite mastered the pavlova. I’ve tasted plenty and I know what the consistency is supposed to be like (marshmallowy) but never managed to figure out a recipe that consistently turns out a pav like it’s supposed to.
When I was growing up in Australia, before I started really cooking, I used “Pavlova Magic” (a premade mix that came, enticingly, in an egg-shaped container). I’ve since made tons of from-scratch pavlovas in my time – some have been “good” but not outstanding. This one? Oh. My.
I was a little skeptical about it when I saw the instruction to add boiling water (what?) but pleased to see there was no “leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely” instruction. I always wonder whether it’s necessary (and inevitably I haven’t timed myself properly and need the oven for something else…).
I couldn’t get over how easy this was to make (pretty unfussy) and it came together very quickly in a stand mixer. It’s useful to have all your mise-en-place ready before you start whipping the whites because it doesn’t take long to make. This will be my go-to recipe from now on.
You definitely need to add the cream and berries JUST before you serve because it’s going to slightly collapse (the way it’s kind of meant to). SO GOOD!