Mini Berry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Mini Berry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Impress your loved ones with these mini berry pavlovas with vanilla bean whipped cream. These elegant individual pavlovas have a crisp exterior and chewy marshmallow-like center. Topped with homemade vanilla bean whipped cream and berries, they’re absolutely delicious!

Have you made pavlova? Maybe you’ve tried the traditional pavlova I shared this past Easter. I LOVE pavlova! It’s one of my very favorite desserts. With just a few ingredients, you can make something so elegant and impressive.  These mini pavlovas (aka pavlova nests) are just as easy as the original but the recipe has been modified to make 6 individually-sized pavlovas, perfect for an upcoming holiday party or entertaining of any kind!  Instead of piping one large circle, you’ll spoon or pipe the meringue into 6 smaller circles.

mini berry pavlovas with vanilla bean whipped cream

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.

Mini Pavlovas vs. Mini Meringues 

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 traditional pavlova in texture from that of a classic meringue (mini meringues are sometimes called meringue nests). Follow these easy step-by-step instructions and recipe tips to get the texture just right.

5 PAVLOVA RECIPE TIPS for PERFECT PAVLOVAS


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

I learned a new technique for separating egg yolks and egg whites when I took pastry classes; I find it works best.  Using two bowls, crack the eggs and catch the egg yolk in one hand while letting the white fall below into the first bowl. After all the white has fallen away from the egg yolk, place into second bowl. Repeat for all eggs.  Maybe you’ve tried a different technique in the past, using the cracked egg shell to catch and separate the eggs.  This is an alternative, but, a portion of the yolk often ends up with the white. And, as stated above, fat impedes the volume of whipped egg whites. 

how to separate an egg with your hands

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 pavlovas. 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!

INGREDIENTS You’ll need to make Mini Berry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

ingredients to make pavlova

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 for flavor!
  • 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! Pomegranate would be a fun holiday twist. This will decorate the tops of the mini pavlovas. 

HOW TO MAKE Mini Berry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

1 – BEAT THE EGG WHITES

  1. To a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and vanilla extract.
  2. Using whisk attachment or an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg whites until they 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, about 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.
how to make meringue for pavlovas

3 – SHAPE THE PAVLOVAS

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and center oven rack. Draw 6 4-inch circles on a piece of parchment paper. Flip parchment over and place on baking sheet.
  2. Using a piping bag and a large star tip, pipe into circles using the drawn circles as a guide.  Make sure you leave a little dip in the center of each circle to hold the toppings.  Alternatively, you can use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to shape the mini circles. 

4 – BAKE THE PAVLOVAS

  1. Bake the pavlovas for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until shells are firm and dry, but not at all brown.
  2. Turn off oven and allow pavlova shells 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 – WHIP 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 shells, swirling decoratively with the back of the spoon.
  2. Top with an assortment of fresh fruit, ie. raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and/or pomegranate seeds. 
  3. Optional toppings to make your finished pavlovas really stand out include homemade lemon curd, or a strawberry or raspberry coulis.
  4. Serve immediately!
mini berry pavlovas with vanilla bean whipped cream

Mixing things up

Lemon Pavlovas – Add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the meringue, with the sugar for a hint of lemon flavor. 

Make a pavlova bar – Set out a tray of finished mini pavlova shells, along with a bowl of the whipped cream and small bowls of various kinds of fresh fruit and fruit sauces, lemon curd, etc.  Allow guests to top their own mini pavlovas with the fresh whipped cream and an assortment of fresh fruit toppings.  Kids and adults will have so much fun

Make them dairy-free –  Instead of topping with fresh whipped cream, whip cold coconut cream (see this tutorial) with a little powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Top pavlova shells with coconut whipped cream and fresh fruit!

Pavlova is also delicious topped with lemon or grapefruit curd, which is a perfect way to use up all those leftover egg yolks from your meringue.

mini berry pavlova with vanilla bean whipped cream

Mini Berry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

These elegant individual pavlovas have a crisp exterior and chewy marshmallow-like center. Topped with homemade vanilla bean whipped cream and berries, they’re absolutely delicious!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Keyword: mini berry pavlova, mini pavlovas
Servings: 6

Ingredients

MERINGUE SHELLS

  • 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 or other fresh fruit

Instructions

MAKE MERINGUE SHELLS

  • 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 whites 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 6 4-inch circles on a piece of parchment paper. Flip parchment over and place on baking sheet.
  • Using a piping bag and a large star tip, pipe into circles using the drawn circles as a guide.  Make sure you leave a little dip in the center of each circle to hold the toppings.  Alternatively, you can use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to shape the mini circles. 
  • Bake the pavlova for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until shell is firm and dry, but not at all brown.
  • Turn off oven and allow pavlova shells 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 PAVLOVAS

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

Notes

Pavlova is also delicious topped with lovely lemon or grapefruit curd, which is a perfect way to use up all those leftover egg yolks from your meringue.






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