This is a majestically dreamy dessert, which was named in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, as the original shape of the tall, round meringue is a gesture to Pavolva’s tutu. There’s an ongoing debate between Australians and New Zealanders about the history of Pavlova, as both lay claim to this dessert. Yet despite its sweet rivalry, Pavlova is magnificent and deceptively easy to make. Its pirouetting, crisp meringue base is almost candied
at its edges and is deeply marshmallow-like within. The combination of whipped cream and tangy mascarpone piled high in the center is a lovely balance to the sweetness of the Pavlova base. A scattering of bright berries and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is the final touch to this always impressive and elegant dessert.
Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.
Here’s how our recipe’s ingredients contribute to making the very best Mascarpone Berry Pavlova
SUPERFINE SUGAR: Superfine sugar is granulated sugar that has been processed into a finer grain; it melts and incorporates faster and dissolves better when making the Pavlova base. Adding sugar does more than add sweetness; it draws water from the egg whites so they dry out during baking. Sugar also serves as a stabilizer to keep the meringue from collapsing.
EGG WHITES: Egg whites are comprised of water and protein. When whipped, the protein and water molecules combine to create a stable foam. Eggs are easier to separate when cold but whip up better at room temperature, whipping faster and providing more volume. Separate your eggs when cold, and let the whites stand at room temperature. Make sure there’s no presence of yolk in your egg whites, as fat inhibits the whites from whipping!
CORNSTARCH AND DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR: Cornstarch helps prevent moisture loss and stabilize the Pavlova base. The acidity in white vinegar helps stabilize the egg whites to make a firm meringue. Combining the starch and acid creates Pavlova perfection, as it makes a lovely chewy edge and tender marshmallow-y center.
VANILLA BEAN PASTE: Vanilla bean paste is a viscous combination of vanilla extract, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds. Its speckled appearance and concentrated aroma add wonderful depth and flavor to both the Pavlova base and Vanilla Mascarpone Cream.
KOSHER SALT: Kosher salt is a pure, additive-free salt that dissolves readily and has a crisp, clean taste. It is also flaked rather than granulated, allowing for more even distribution when being whipped into the Pavlova.
CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR: Using confectioners’ sugar in the Vanilla Mascarpone Cream instead of granulated sugar adds stability to the whipped
cream because confectioners’ sugar contains
a touch of cornstarch, which will help the whipped cream maintain its voluminous shape. It’s also dusted onto the Pavlova as a final flourish.
MASCARPONE CHEESE: Mascarpone cheese in the whipped topping adds a silky texture to the sweet cream and a subtle tang that pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the Pavlova base and the tartness of the fresh berries.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
THERMOMETER: We use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the egg white and sugar mixture reaches 120°F (48°C) to 130°F (54°C) to guarantee the loftiest meringue for the Pavlova. (Pictured is the OXO Thermocouple Thermometer.)
SPATULAS: A large straight icing spatula will help you create the billowy meringue shape with ease and optimal control. We use a small offset spatula when gently adding the Vanilla Mascarpone Cream to the meringue base. (Pictured are the William Sonoma Olivewood Offset Icing Spatula, William Sonoma Olivewood Straight Icing Spatula.)
RIMMED BAKING SHEET: The uses for a rimmed baking sheet in the kitchen are endless, and for this recipe, there’s nothing better for even, consistent heat distribution while baking this beautiful Pavlova. (Pictured is the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch® Pro Nonstick Non Corrugated Half Sheet.)
STAND MIXER: As a precious energy- and time-saver, a stand mixer helps beat egg whites for the meringue and creates the velvety smooth Vanilla Mascarpone Cream. (Pictured is the KitchenAid® Artisan Stand Mixer, 5-Qt. and KitchenAid® Stand Mixer Clear Glass Bowl Attachment, 5-Qt.)
SAUCEPAN: You want a stainless steel saucepan that will heat efficiently and evenly with precise temperature control and no hot spots when creating a double boiler for heating the egg whites and the sugar together in the beginning stages of making the meringue. (Pictured is the Williams Sonoma Signature Thermo-CladTM Stainless-Steel Saucepan.)
SPATULA, WHISK, STRAINER, AND GLASS BOWLS: For all your mixing needs, you really can’t beat the basics. Silicone spatulas are perfect for simple stirring, folding, and ensuring you get every last bit of the meringue out of the mixer bowl and onto the baking sheet. A whisk is essential for gently combining ingredients, from egg whites and sugar to cornstarch, vanilla bean paste, and vinegar. Get the perfect dusting of confectioners’ sugar to adorn the top of the Pavlova with help from a small fine-mesh sieve, and glass bowls give you a 360-degree visual in every step of this recipe. (Pictured is the Williams Sonoma Silicone Spatula with Stainless-Steel Handle, Williams Sonoma Olivewood Whisk, All-Clad 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Strainer Set, and Glass Mixing Bowl 10-Piece Set.)
- 11⁄2 cups (300 grams) superfine sugar
- 3⁄4 cup (180 grams) egg whites, room temperature
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla
- bean paste
- 11⁄2 teaspoons (7.5 grams) distilled
- white vinegar
- Vanilla Mascarpone Cream (recipe
- follows) Fresh berries
- Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Using a pencil, dark-colored ink pen, or permanent marker, draw an 8-inch circle on a 161⁄2x 12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a heatproof bowl, whisk together superfine sugar, egg whites, and salt by hand. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, gently whisking frequently, until sugar completely dissolves and an instant- read thermometer registers 120°F (48°C) to 130°F (54°C).
- Carefully transfer sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat at medium- high speed until stiff peaks form, 4 to 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, vanilla bean paste, and vinegar. Add to meringue, and
- beat at medium-high speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Spoon meringue inside drawn circle on prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread meringue until it is the width of drawn template, with swoopy sides.Using spatula, make an indentation in center (about 1 inch deep). (Do not spoon out; push meringue in center toward outer edge. Final dimensions of the meringue should be 8 inches wide, 21⁄2 inches tall, and 1 inch deep in the center.) Place in oven, and immediately reduce oven temperature to 225°F (107°C).
- Bake until dry to the touch,
- ⁄2 hours to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Turn oven off, and let meringue stand in oven with door closed for 8 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, spoon Vanilla Mascarpone Cream in center of meringue, and top with berries. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Serve immediately.
For mini Pavlovas, simply dollop or pipe 12 meringues onto the prepared baking sheet, bake, and assemble for individual treats!
- 1 cup (240 grams) cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons (14 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
- 1 (8-ounce) container
- (226 grams) mascarpone cheese
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean paste at medium-high speed until slightly thickened. Add mascarpone, and beat until medium- stiff peaks form. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container overnight. If refrigerating, let stand at room temperature for 10 to minutes and stir before using.
GUIDED BY THE LINE
Drawing a circle on the parchment paper is a helpful guide when forming your meringue base before baking
1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Using a pencil, dark-colored ink pen, or permanent marker, draw an 8-inch circle on a 161⁄2×12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Draw your circle dark enough so that it can be seen through the parchment after turning it over.
Our recipe uses Swiss meringue, which is more stable than French meringue and requires less attention than Italian meringue, making it the ideal choice for our Pavlova