This post has been updated to include how to make mini-pavlovas and how to transport and store the pavlovas if you are attending Christmas dinner at someone else’s place!
Christmas is a time for family and for great food. It was our first Christmas in New Zealand so we made the festive season extra special by recreating a traditional family recipe, the pavlova. 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. I have never made a pavlova or even a regular meringue before so I was quite reluctant to make this dessert at first. After all, it was easy to cheat and buy a ready made pavlova base from the supermarket. But where is the fun in that? With motivation from Jon and Steve (Jon’s dad), and an adaptation of a reliable family recipe from Nicky (Jon’s auntie), I finally decided to give the pavlova recipe a go. There was a lot of pressure in making the dessert but it was all worth it!
I made the pavlova on Christmas eve so it had a lot of time to cool and set over night in the oven. The whipped cream and berries (raspberries, blueberries are in season) were added on Christmas day, just before we served the dish. This way the pavlova remains crisp and the rest of the ingredients are fresh.
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.
Here’s how I made the New Zealand Christmas Pavlova:
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 6 tbsp cold water
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 300 ml cream, whipped
- 3 tbsp powder sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- strawberries, sliced
- kiwi fruit, sliced
*To make mini pavlovas, half the quantities in the recipe and reduce baking time to 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC bake. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with electric mixer set on high until soft peaks form (about 8-10 minutes). Continue beating while adding sugar a quarter of a cup at a time. Beat until firm peaks form. Mixture should be thick and glossy at this point. Fold in vanilla and vinegar. Remove electric mixer. Fold in corn flour.
Draw 20cm diameter circle on baking tray with a pencil. Spoon mixture out prepared tray, carefully following the drawn circle. (*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. Turn down the oven to 150 ºC, and continue baking for 1 hour (*for mini pavlovas, continue baking for 30 minutes), until dry and crisp and it lifts easily off the baking paper. Turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven for about an hour 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 powder 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.