Easy Berry Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Easy Berry Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Impress your loved ones with this easy berry pavlova with vanilla bean whipped cream. This elegant pavlova has a crisp exterior and chewy marshmallow-like center. Topped with homemade vanilla bean whipped cream and berries, this berry pavlova dessert is absolutely delicious!

easy berry pavlova with vanilla bean whipped cream

This recipe is very adaptable. I’ll share a few of my favorite ways to top a pavlova, but it’s pretty with an assortment of fresh berries, especially in spring and summer when berries start to fill the markets at a reasonable price! Pavlova is also delicious topped with vanilla bean whipped cream and a lovely lemon or grapefruit curd, which is a perfect way to use up all those leftover egg yolks from your meringue.

What Is Pavlova?

A popular dessert in both New Zealand and Australia, Pavlova dates back to the early 1900s and was named after the famous Romanian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Like a ballerina, pavlova is a graceful and light meringue-based dessert, most often topped with sweetened whipped cream, seasonal fruit and even a fruit coulis or curd if we’re getting extra fancy.

The distinct texture of pavlova is what really makes this dessert so special. The magic happens when sugar dissolves into egg whites as they are whipped, making meringue. As the sugar dissolves, it stabilizes the whipped egg whites so they can hold their shape and hold air as they bake. The whipped meringue is shaped into a large cake-shaped disc and baked at a low temperature. Unlike classic meringue recipes that are crunchy throughout, pavlova is crisp on the outside and soft and spongy in the center.

easy berry pavlova with vanilla bean whipped cream

Easy Pavlova Meringue Recipe

Pavlova meringue and classic meringue consist mostly of the same ingredients. However, the technique for whipping the meringue and the baking time and temperature are what distinguish a pavlova in texture from that of a classic meringue. Follow these easy step-by-step instructions to get the texture just right.

easy berry pavlova recipe

5 Pavlova Recipe Tips

1. Clean Whisk and Mixing Bowl

Wash your bowl and whisk one extra time with hot soapy water or wipe with a clean dish towel and a little vinegar before starting. If your whisk or bowl has any residual grease or oil hanging out, it will impede the finished volume of the meringue.

2. Room Temperature Eggs

Eggs at room temperature whip better and make more voluminous meringue. Remember to pull them out of the refrigerator a few hours before you plan to use them. Or, you can place cold eggs in warm water for about 5 minutes to bring them to room temperature.

3. Separate Eggs with Your Hands

Over one bowl, crack the eggs and catch the yolk in one hand while letting the white fall below into bowl. Place yolk into second bowl. Repeat for all eggs. When you use the cracked egg shell to catch and separate the eggs, a portion of the yolk often ends up with the white. And, as stated above, fat impedes the volume of whipped egg whites. I learned this technique when I took pastry classes.

separate eggs with your hands when making pavlova

4. Whip Eggs Gradually

Make sure egg whites are foamy and form soft peaks before adding the sugar. You don’t want to turn the mixer above medium speed or you’ll whip too much air into your meringue too quickly, and it will be unstable, which can affect the finished look of your pavlova. Some cracks are normal and OK, but you don’t want the meringue to fall and crack considerably while it bakes.

5. Let Meringue Cool in Oven

To ensure your meringue is nice and dry on the outside, you can let it cool in the oven, especially if it’s a particularly humid day. You want to keep your baked meringue dry!

easy berry pavlova recipe

Easy Berry Pavlova & Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Ingredients

Meringue

  • Egg whites: Use large egg whites and make sure they’re at room temperature.
  • Sugar: Ultra-fine sugar works especially well if you have it as the finer crystals dissolve more easily into the egg whites, enhancing the texture and lift of the finished pavlova. However, I often use regular granulated sugar and it will make a pavlova just as tasty and nearly as pretty.
  • Cream of Tartar: This helps add stability to the meringue.
  • Vanilla extract: Purely to flavor the meringue layer of the pavlova
  • Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness

Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: To make the vanilla bean whipped cream topping – make sure it’s cold!
  • Powdered Sugar: To sweeten the whipped cream
  • Vanilla Bean: Delicate flecks of delicious vanilla bean scattered throughout the whipped cream are perfection!
  • Fresh Berries or Fruit: Buy what is in season and beautiful! This will decorate the top of the pavlova.
ingredients to make easy pavlova

How to Make Berry Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

1 – Beat the egg whites

  1. To a large bowl or stand mixer, add egg whites and vanilla extract.
  2. Using whisk attachment or an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg white until the whites form bubbles, up to 5 minutes.
  3. Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 5 minutes until soft peaks form.

2 – Add Sugar to Egg Whites

  1. With mixer on low again, gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until it’s well mixed and fully incorporated.
  2. On medium speed, continue whipping sugar and egg whites until mixture is thick and glossy, up to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and salt and until fully incorporated into meringue, beating on high for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until stiff peaks form.

3 – Shape the Pavlova

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and center oven rack. Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Flip parchment over and place on baking sheet.
  2. Using a rubber spatula or offset spatula, spoon meringue onto parchment paper. Use the circle as a guide, spreading to outer edges and smoothing the meringue as you shape it.
  3. Build up the sides to form a large dip in the center to make a bowl shape. This is where the fruit and cream will hang out.
perfect pavlova meringue
perfect pavlova meringue

4 – Bake the Pavlova

  1. Bake the pavlova for 1 hour and 15 to minutes, to 1 hour 30 minutes, until shell is firm and dry, but not at all brown.
  2. Turn off oven and allow pavlova shell to cool in dry oven for at least an hour, to overnight. If you live in a dry climate, you can skip this step and cool out of the oven on a cooling rack.

5 – Make Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  1. Split vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp paring knife. Use a small spoon to scoop out the vanilla bean flecks. Set aside.
  2. Using a clean whisk attachment, starting on medium speed, whip cold heavy whipping cream in a bowl of stand mixer or large bowl. Once the heavy whipping cream begins to thicken, turn up to high speed. If the cream splatters out of your bowl, you’ll know you’ve turned it up too high, too soon. Turn mixer off when the whipped cream is still a little soft and add vanilla bean paste and powdered sugar. Continue mixing until it’s between soft peaks and firm peaks, depending on your preference. A word of caution: it’s easy to over whip the cream in an electric mixer and before you know it you’ve ended up with the beginnings of homemade butter, and at this point, there’s no going back.

6 – Assemble & Serve Berry Pavlova

  1. Spoon finished whipped cream on top of cooled pavlova shell, swirling decoratively with the back of the spoon.
  2. Top with an assortment of fresh berries, ie. raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or strawberries.
  3. Optional toppings to make your finished pavlova really stand out include homemade lemon curd, or a strawberry or raspberry coulis.
  4. Serve immediately!
perfect berry pavlova
easy berry pavlova with vanilla bean whipped cream

How to Make Pavlova Ahead

You can make all the components of the pavlova ahead of time (ie. meringue shell, whipped cream, curd, coulis, etc) and assemble before just before serving. The baked meringue shell will keep for up to two days after baking. Make sure to keep it in a covered container.

More Fruit Desserts to Try

easy berry pavlova recipe
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5 from 1 vote

Easy Berry Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Baked meringue shell filled with fresh berries and vanilla bean whipped cream. Delicious!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: berry pavlova, easy pavlova
Servings: 6

Ingredients

MERINGUE SHELL

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar Superfine sugar is especially nice if you can find it!
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

VANILLA BEAN WHIPPED CREAM

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream cold
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1-2 pints fresh berries

Instructions

MAKE MERINGUE SHELL

  • To a large bowl or stand mixer, add egg whites and vanilla extract.
  • Using whisk attachment or an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg white until the whites form bubbles, up to 5 minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 5 minutes until soft peaks form.
  • With mixer on low again, gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until it’s well mixed and fully incorporated.
  • On medium speed, continue whipping sugar and egg whites until mixture is thick and glossy, up to 10 minutes.
  • Add the cream of tartar and salt and until fully incorporated into meringue, beating on high for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until stiff peaks form.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and center oven rack. Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Flip parchment over and place on baking sheet.
  • Using a rubber spatula or offset spatula, spoon meringue onto parchment paper. Use the circle as a guide, spreading to outer edges and smoothing the meringue as you shape it.
  • Build up the sides to form a large dip in the center to make a bowl shape. This is where the fruit and cream will hang out.
  • Bake the pavlova for 1 hour and 15 to minutes, to 1 hour 30 minutes, until shell is firm and dry, but not at all brown.
  • Turn off oven and allow pavlova shell to cool in dry oven for at least an hour, to overnight. If you live in a dry climate, you can skip this step and cool out of the oven on a cooling rack.

MAKE VANILLA BEAN WHIPPED CREAM

  • Split vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp paring knife. Use a small spoon to scoop out the vanilla bean flecks. Set aside.
  • Using a clean whisk attachment, starting on medium speed, whip cold heavy whipping cream in a bowl of stand mixer or large bowl. Once the heavy whipping cream begins to thicken, turn up to high speed. If the cream splatters out of your bowl, you’ll know you’ve turned it up too high, too soon. Turn mixer off when the whipped cream is still a little soft and add vanilla bean paste and powdered sugar. Continue mixing until it’s between soft peaks and firm peaks, depending on your preference. A word of caution: it’s easy to over whip the cream in an electric mixer and before you know it you’ve ended up with the beginnings of homemade butter, and at this point, there’s no going back.

ASSEMBLE & SERVE BERRY PAVLOVA

  • Spoon finished whipped cream on top of cooled pavlova shell, swirling decoratively with the back of the spoon.
  • Top with an assortment of fresh berries, ie. raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or strawberries.
  • Optional toppings to make your finished pavlova really stand out include homemade lemon curd, or a strawberry or raspberry coulis.
  • Serve immediately!


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