I am thrilled to be partnering with Princess Cruises. They sponsored this post for our Mini Pavlova Recipe which was inspired by the ones served on their excellent Caribbean Cruises. All recipes, photos, and opinions remain, as always, my own.
Pavlovas; you either love them, or haven’t heard of them. Ethereally light, crisp on the outside, and marshmallowy on the inside, my Mini Pavlova Recipe is as simple as it is stunning. Really. I promise they’re easy! If you are capable of whipping cream, you can make a perfect Mini Pavlova Recipe.
I’ve always loved pavlovas, but was inspired to make our Mini Pavlova Recipe while on a Western Caribbean Cruise with Princess Cruises. I grabbed these from the International Marketplace after lunch to take with me for sustenance while I hid in my favourite quiet place on deck to read.
So as I sat in this blissfully quiet spot, basking in the warmth like a lizard on a rock, reading my book and indulging in a post lunch dessert, I thought. I wondered what made their Mini Pavlova Recipe hold up so perfectly to being out on the buffet line and how it didn’t weep and wilt in the Caribbean heat.
I wondered this because I know that the chefs on all Princess Cruises make all of the food from scratch every single day. There is not one thing -from the bread to the sauces to the soups- where they use a mix, or take a shortcut. In other words, that personal sized pavlova I gobbled so ravenously had been made by a pastry chef separating eggs and making picture perfect pavlovas on the ocean in the warmth.
I set a goal to make a foolproof mini pavlova recipe as soon as I got home.
…and I did just that. I found out something important. Super fresh chicken eggs are NOT the best for pavlovas of any size. Oy. I had some very shiny, very fluffy, very sticky, not-at-all-structurally-sound pavlovas from my day old and week old eggs. I had some experimenting to do. Many batches of mini pavlovas of varying degrees of success later, I can tell you I have the most foolproof Mini Pavlova Recipe to share with you, so you, too, can hide yourself in a warm, quiet place with a book and a mini pavlova.
How to make foolproof Pavlovas
Okay. I said it’s easy and I meant it. I did, however, discover a couple of things that surprised me.
- The Mini Pavlova Recipe works best when you use packaged egg whites from the refrigerated egg and dairy section at the grocery store. I know that sounds crazy, but even the tiniest bit of yolk in the egg white keeps your egg whites from pavlova perfection. And my farm-fresh eggs were just TOO fresh.
- Oddly, while most recipes recommend using room temperature egg whites, I found better results using cold egg white and whipping them for longer. It wasn’t a one time thing, either. This was consistent for me.
- Another strange but consistent finding was that it mattered whether I started the mixer on low and moved slowly to high or just rammed it into high gear from the outset. My mini pavlova recipe worked far better when I started the mixer on low, let it go for a minute, then slowly (about every 30 seconds or so) eased the mixer up to medium speed until the bubbles were even and small. More on this in the Cook’s Notes.
- It doesn’t really matter whether you use “caster” or “superfine” sugar or regular granulated white sugar but you can’t use raw or demerara sugar without taking it for a spin for about 30 seconds in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. And of the three options, I actually prefer regular old granulated white sugar for my mini pavlova recipe.
- I found cream of tartar to be infinitely more successful in my mini pavlova recipe than white vinegar. I will not ever try vinegar again unless I am desperate for pavlovas and have no cream of tartar and no ability to go buy it.
- Pretty piping is nice and all, but is far more of a pain to do than the payoff it provides warrants. I think our mini pavlova recipe looks even prettier when spooned into mounds vs. piped into fussy shapes. Besides, I thought they cooked more evenly and had more of the classic crisp-exterior-marshmallow-inside characteristics when portioned and shaped with spoons.
And now for the rules, because there are some. They’re not complicated or difficult, but they are important.
How to make perfect pavlovas; the rules.
- Make sure your bowl and beaters (or stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment) are scrupulously clean. If you have even a little grease on either, your egg whites just plain won’t beat to the state they need to get to for perfect pavlovas. Any grease or fat of any sort will doom your pavs.
- If you really, really want to separate your own eggs for your mini pavlova recipe, be my guest. But woe betide you if you get even the tiniest bit of yolk in there. Yolk is basically fat, and as discussed before, fat is the death knell for perfect pavlovas.
- Don’t overwhip your egg whites. The goal is thick and glossy, not super stiff with big bubbles. This will make your meringue weep which will, in turn, make you weep. Here’s a great visual guide for whipping egg whites to stiff peaks, which is the goal.
- Parchment on the pan is absolutely non negotiable. Well, maybe it’s the tiniest bit negotiable… but only if you substitute a silpat baking mat for it. One or the other is obligatory. Nobody but NOBODY wants to chisel soon-to-be-formerly-perfect-pavlovas from a baking sheet to which they’re adhered. Trust me. I took one for the team on this one.
- Last, but not least important, do not ever open a discussion on whether Pavlovas were invented by Australians or New Zealanders. This is evidently contested. I propose a pavlova-bake-off to settle this. I’ll selflessly offer to take another 7-day Caribbean Cruise and judge. Whaddya say?
- Before you start anything else, measure your granulated sugar and cornstarch into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine evenly.
- When you’ve set up your stand mixer bowl or mixing bowl with the egg whites in it, sprinkle the cream of tartar and pinch of salt over the top before you begin whipping.
- Begin whipping on low speed. After 30 seconds to 1 minute, raise the speed one setting. Slow raise the speed every 30 seconds until your each medium speed. Continue mixing on medium until the egg whites are frothy and the bubbles are small and even.
- Raise the mixer speed to medium high, then begin spooning the sugar mixture into the mixer, aiming for the wall of the mixer to avoid the sugar going POOF in your face. Do this about a tablespoon or so at a time, until all of the sugar has been incorporated. Let it go for about 3 to 4 minutes at this speed to help dissolve the sugar.
- Add the vanilla, raise the mixer to high speed, and let ‘er rip until the whites are thick and glossy, and you reach stiff peaks; this means that when you raise the beater or whisk from the whites, they hold their shape like a little mountain with just the very tips of the meringue folding over on itself. This is likely to take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- On a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, use two tablespoons (the sort you eat with, not the measuring variety) to portion about 10 to 12 mounds. You’ll scoop the meringue with one spoon and use the second one to coax it from the first one onto the sheet. Be sure to leave ample space between the mounds for air to circulate. Use the spoons to make an indentation to hold whatever goodies you intend to use to top your mini pavlova recipe.
- The ideal placement for your pan full of future pavlovas is the very center of the oven. Try to arrange your oven racks to accommodate that.
- Don’t give in to the temptation to open the oven door to check on your mini pavlova recipe more than once. Only open it at about halfway through the cooking time to rotate your pan from front to back. If you need to use more than one pan, rotate them from top to bottom then, too.
- When they’re done, you’ll get the most longevity from your mini pavlova recipe -assuming you can’t eat all 12 in one sitting- if you let them cool completely in the oven without opening the door.
- Store leftover, untopped pavs loosely wrapped at cool room temperature. If you need to re-crisp them, you can do so on a parchment lined pan in a 200°F oven for 15 minutes.
How to Top a Mini Pavlova Recipe
Use any of these ideas alone or in combination with each other!
- lemon curd, lemon lime curd, or any fruit curd
- blueberry sauce
- whipped cream
- mixed berries
- citrus salad
- seasonal fruit
Use these to make your Mini Pavlova Recipe
Perfect Mini Pavlova Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch `
- 3/4 cup liquid 100% egg whites (6 ounces)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and cornstarch until everything is evenly combined. Set aside.Preheat your oven to 275°F with your oven racks arranged in the center of the oven. Line a half sheet pan or cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
Pour the liquid egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or a large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer.Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt over the surface, and begin whipping on low speed. After 30 seconds to 1 minute, raise the speed one setting. Slow raise the speed every 30 seconds until your each medium speed. Continue mixing on medium until the egg whites are frothy and the bubbles are small and even.Raise the mixer speed to medium high, then begin using a spoon to slowly sprinkle the sugar mixture into the mixer, aiming for the wall of the mixer to avoid the sugar going POOF in your face. Do this about a tablespoon or so at a time, until all of the sugar has been incorporated. Let it go for about 3 to 4 minutes at this speed to help dissolve the sugar.Add the vanilla, raise the mixer to high speed, and let 'er rip until the whites are thick and glossy, and you reach stiff peaks; this is likely to take about 4 to 5 minutes.On a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, use two tablespoons (the sort you eat with, not the measuring variety) to portion about 10 to 12 mounds. You'll scoop the meringue with one spoon and use the second one to coax it from the first one onto the sheet. Be sure to leave ample space between the mounds for air to circulate. Use the spoons to make an indentation to hold whatever goodies you intend to use to top your mini pavlova recipe.Bake for 50-60 minutes, opening the oven door only once at about 30 minutes to rotate the pan from front to back, and -if using more than one pan- from top to bottom. Close the door as quickly and gently as possible and continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, or until the exteriors are dry and crisp and the mini pavlova can be easily lifted from the parchment without sticking.
Allow the mini pavlovas to cool completely on the pan in the oven with the door closed.Top as desired.
Store untopped mini pavlovas loosely wrapped at room temperature.
Love this Mini Pavlova Recipe? Try these excellent fruit desserts!