The Pavlova, the beloved crispy, yet fluffy ‘cake’ filled with cream and berries. What could be a more perfect summer dessert? My Berry Pavlova has a little added zing with lemon zest in its marshmallowy base. It’s also lighter because I’ve used Greek yogurt with a little cream for the filling.
Sure, it’s a sweet meringue, but combined with the lighter (very little sugar added) filling and naturally sweet fruit on top, it’s sort of amazing, and beautiful too.
Make it for the 4th!
- because it’s pretty
- because it’s light and fruity
- because it’s a make-ahead dream
And really, don’t think this is just for summer. I’ve made a fantastic version of this with roasted pears. I hope to post that one soon. But have fun with it, switch out some berries for cherries (see my cherry pitting tip below), or cranberries, no need to stick to the recipe as far as the fruit is concerned!
What’s a Pavlova anyways?
Supposedly, the pavlova was invented by a chef in Australia for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. He was trying to mimic her tutu and her dancing with a light and airy dessert. Of course, there are many alternative stories of its creation, but I like this one. It’s my story, so I’m sticking (sticky meringue pun intended) to it!
Some other delish summer desserts you might want to try
- Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
- Peach Galette (from my friend Becca at Fork in the Kitchen)
- Chocolate Pot de Creme
You know those ‘meringue’ cookies you get in the store, those hard and crunchy overly sweet ones? Well get that cloying image straight out of your head, this meringue has a soft and pillowy interior with a gently crispy crust. I dare you not to eat it before you finish assembling!
- 6 large (180g) egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Zest* of one lemon
- 1–1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I like Penzeys)
- 2+ cups fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, cold
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Using a pencil, trace** a 8-9″-diameter circle (use a pie or cake pan to trace around) on a piece of parchment paper . Place on a rimmed baking sheet , pencil-side down.
- Rub the cut side of the lemon (after zesting then juicing!) around the inside of your mixing bowl, this removes any residual fat on the sides of the bowl*.
- Gently combine the sugar and cornstarch.
- Whisk egg whites and pinch of fine sea salt on medium speed until it is bubbly and increasing in volume. Keeping the mixer at medium to medium-high ensures enough time for the sugar to dissolve, having the mixer too high, grainy sugar.
- Gradually, add one tablespoon at a time, of the sugar mixture, beating until stiff and glossy peaks form. You should not be able to rub the meringue between your fingers and feel any sugar grains. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
- Plop the mixture into the center of the circle on the parchment. Then using the penciled circle as a guide, with an offset spatula, form the meringue into a mound. Make sort of a well in the center (which will hold the cream and berries) of the meringue.
- Bake for about 1 hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Turn off heat; leave in the oven with it ajar (use a wooden spoon to hold it open) until completely cooled (this helps prevent cracking***).
- Once completely cooled, using two large spatulas, transfer to a cake stand or serving plate.
- To serve, whisk the Greek yogurt with heavy cream with 1 tablespoon honey (if using) until silky and holds a soft peak; mound in the middle of the pavlova.
- Tumble on the berries and serve.
Use a glass or stainless steel bowl, not plastic, which can have oil (no matter how much you scrub). The whites won’t whip if there is any oil in the bowl, on the whisk or spatula.
*always zest your lemon before juicing, trust me, a cut lemon just won’t zest 🙂
**you can certainly do a free-form disk of meringue, no worries. The pencil just helps as a guide, and perfection is NOT the objective here.
***cracking is normal, and really, it’s not a big deal (see my photos, still tastes great!
Keywords: berry pavlova, ballerina pavlova, strawberry pavlova, the best pavlova, pavlova with greek yogurt, not as sweet pavlova