This post has been updated to include how to make mini-pavlovas and new photos showcasing a pavlova wreath.
Christmas is a time for family and for great food. It was our first Christmas in New Zealand when I first made this Kiwi Christmas delicacy and have made it three times since! It seems like I’ve been nominated as the “pavlova person” every Christmas now. After a few times of making this dish, I have become more confident with the recipe – it’s easier than you think! I actually enjoy the whole process of it all.
The classic Kiwi pavlova makes the festive season extra special more so if you try and make it part of your family tradition. Made with a light meringue base and topped with fluffy whipped cream and fresh summer berries, the pavlova is one of the desserts in New Zealand that I have always looked forward to making. I still remember the first time I made a pavlova and adapted it from a family recipe form Jon’s auntie. There was definitely a bit of pressure making it the first time but it went well and have not had any issues since! There’s so much pleasure in making this traditional dessert for family and the result is a sure standout – with a crisp shell and fluffy interior which blends so well with the cream and the berries.
I usually bake the pavlova the day before Christmas so it has plenty of time to cool and set over night in the oven. The whipped cream is best prepared on Christmas day.
This pavlova was assembled with the whipped cream and berries (strawberries, blueberries are in season) just before serving on Christmas lunch. This way the pavlova remains crisp and the rest of the ingredients are fresh.
Last Christmas, I had a chance to introduce this “new dessert” to two kids, one has never tried a pavlova before! They were so thrilled to have helped decorate the pavlova and they swear it’s now their favourite “cake”! Now, that’s a lasting impression.
Some tips when making the pavlova:
- A stand mixer is probably ideal for the pavlova as it takes a while to prepare the egg whites but a hand mixer (this was what I used) worked fine.
- Make sure that the bowl and the mixer are clean from any oil to ensure that the egg white will form. You may clean the bowl and whisk with vinegar or lemon juice to ensure that they are clean prior to making your perfect Kiwi pavlovas.
- The temperature and freshness of the eggs is also key to make sure that you get best whip possible for the egg whites.
- The cooling and drying is crucial so the pavlova doesn’t break. Leave the pavlova in the oven (turned off) after baking for at least 2 hours to cool down then transfer it to an airtight container or leave it in the oven until ready to serve.
Here’s how I made the New Zealand Christmas Pavlova:
- 6 large free-range whites, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup (350g) caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 300 ml cream, whipped
- 3 tbsp powder sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- strawberries, sliced (or raspberries)
*To make mini pavlovas, half the quantities in the recipe and reduce baking time to 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 160ºC bake or 140ºC fan bake. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer set on high until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding sugar, a quarter of a cup at a time. Beat until firm peaks form and glossy. Mixture should be thick and glossy at this point. Fold in vanilla and vinegar. Fold in corn flour.
I love the wreath idea for pavlovas so I’ve updated my usual big pavlova circles to a wreath. To make this, draw a 25cm diameter outer circle and a 17.5cm diameter inner circle on the other side of the baking paper with a pencil to use as a guide. Spoon mixture out on the prepared baking tray, carefully following the drawn ring. (*To make mini pavlovas, draw four circles on the back of your baking tray with a pencil, about 8 cm in diameter. Ensure you have enough gap between them as the mixture will spread while in the oven).
Place baking pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 140ºC or 120 ºC fan bake, and continue baking for 1 hour or until outside is hard but is still white. Turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven for about 2 hours or overnight. Keep in cool dry, place until the pavlova is ready to be garnished.
To transport, loosely wrap the cooled pavlova with lots of cling wrap, ensuring that the pavlova maintains its form.
To set up the pavlova, carefully transfer to a serving plate using two wide spatulas.
Whip the cream with an electric mixer set at high speed. Slowly add vanilla and powdered sugar to sweeten.
Garnish the top of the pavlova with the whipped cream and decorate with sliced fruits of your choice. Summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are always a big hit.
Have you tried to make this New Zealand Christmas Pavlova recipe? What traditional desserts do you make during Christmas? Let us know.