Recipe video above. The grandest of all Pavlovas!!! With the signature delicate meringue crust and marshmallowy insides, all smothered in cream and berries just like a traditional Pav. More straightforward to make and more stable to stand than you'd expect, the Pav and Coulis can be made the day before.Get the little ones involved building it!To ensure success: Really read the recipe from start to finish, look at the process step photos in the post above and watch the video.
Course: Christmas, Sweet
Keyword: Christmas dessert, Christmas tree dessert, Pavlova
Servings: 12- 16
2/3cupegg whitesfrom 5 - 6 large eggs, at room temperature (Note 1)
1 1/4cupscaster sugar(superfine white sugar)
1 1/4tspwhite vinegar(Note 2)
Raspberry coulis (or strawberry):
250g / 8ozfrozen or fresh raspberries(no need to thaw, Note 3)
2tbspcaster sugar(superfine white sugar)
2cupsthickened/heavy cream(Note 8)
1tbspcaster sugar(superfine white sugar)
28cm/ 11"bamboo skewer – or 2 shorter skewers(Note 4)
10strawberries, medium, cut into 1.75cm / 3/4" rounds ("Strawberry Pillars")
12strawberries cut into 1cm dices(for scattering between layers)
Christmas tree star topper, edible or not, sticky taped to a toothpick
16small sprigs of rosemary
2tbspicing sugar/powdered sugar, for dusting
More strawberries(diced), raspberries, blueberries, and any other fruit you fancy!
Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F (130°C fan) (We drop the temperature down later). Set the oven shelves in the centre and lowest racks.
Draw circles: Take two sheets of baking/parchment paper and, using a pen that shows on the other side of the paper, trace circles around bowls, cookie cutters, scone cutters or glasses as follows:Tray 1: 15cm, 12cm, 6.5cm (6″, 4.8″, 2.5″) diameter roundsTray 2: 10cm, 8.5cm, 5cm, 4cm (4″, 3.5″, 2″, 1.7″) diameter rounds
Turn the paper over and bake on the unmarked side (otherwise pen may stain pav).
Meringue for Pavlova:
Soft peaks: Place egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and beat on Speed 8 for 1 1/2 minutes. (Note 5)
Add sugar gradually: With the beater still going, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all used up - it should take around 90 seconds.
Beat 6 min: Beat for a further 6 minutes (still on Speed 8) until thick, glossy and no sugar grains remain (rub between fingers to check).
Add cornflour & vinegar: Stop beater, sift cornflour over surface. Add vinegar. Beat on speed 8 for a further 30 seconds.
Test: Flip bowl upside down. Meringue should be stiff enough that it does not fall out! If it does, keep beating.
Piping Pavlova Rounds:
Fit a piping bag with a large 1.2cm / 1/2" diameter star shaped piping nozzle, fill with meringue mixture. (Note 6 for alternatives)
Pipe tight coils, leaving a 1.2cm / 1/2" border within the guidelines for the decorative edge (except the two smallest ones, they are too small for decorative rims).
Then do another coil on top (ie two layers) so they are 2cm / 4/5″ thick. Smooth surface. Pipe decorative edge, if using (I just do tight up-and-down swirls, see video).
Repeat for all rounds. (Note: Pavs will expand ever so slightly but will not rise)
Place Tray 1 on middle shelf in oven, Tray 2 underneath.
Turn oven DOWN: Immediately turn oven DOWN to 120°C/250°F (100°C fan).
Bake 1 hour. Check to ensure base of large ones are fully crisp and dry, not wet & sticky. You should be able to lift off without sagging - be GENTLE, it's fragile until dried out.
Cool 3 hours IN oven: Turn oven off. Leave pavlova to fully cool in oven, at least 3 hours, maybe longer. I often leave overnight. In this step, the outside of pav dries out and becomes more sturdy. The pav should be fully crisp and dry to touch.
Store until needed in airtight containers, in a cool, dry part of your house (I keep mine in the downstairs laundry! Note 9)
Raspberry Coulis (make at least 2 hours ahead):
Place ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer 5 minutes, mashing with fork. Puree with stick blender (strain if you want, I do not). Cool fully before use.
Whip cream just before building - do not whip in advance and keep in fridge, it deflates.
Place cream, vanilla and sugar in a large chilled bowl. Beat on high for 5 minutes until stiff. (Go beyond soft, lightly whipped, we need the structure!). Refrigerate until the very moment until you start buildling.
Construction (watch video!)
Be prepared: Have everything out, ready to use. Construct at or near where you plan to serve.
Layer 1: Place largest Pavlova Round on serving platter. Spread with 1cm / 2/5" thick layer of cream, right to the edge. Place 4 strawberry pillars around the edge, onto which the next layer will rest. Gently press them into the cream so they rest on the pav surface. Scatter some chopped strawberries in the middle of the pillars – not too many as we do not want to weigh the pav down. Drizzle with raspberry coulis, especially near the edge so it oozes out prettily. Spread with a bit more cream to cover the strawberries – make sure the cream is level for the next layer. Stick a skewer into the centre, pointy end up.
Layer 2: Thread the centre of the next largest Pavlova Round onto the skewer, spinning back and forth gently to "screw" it through rather than pushing it through. It won't shatter – pav is tougher than you think. Repeat the cream, strawberry pillars, strawberry dice, coulis and cream steps above.
Repeat Layers 3 to 7: Continue this with layers 3 to 7, finishing with the smallest meringue. You will only need 2 strawberry pillars on the smaller layers, and 1 under the centre of the smallest. If the skewer isn't long enough, thread through another one for the upper part of the tree. With each layer, check that the tree is straight and level. Use strawberries to level up the layers.
Star topper: When the smallest Pavlova is placed on the very top, finish with a dollop of cream, small drizzle of coulis. Then insert the star, plus a raspberry and sprig or rosemary!
Decorate with sprigs of rosemary, and insert raspberries onto the edges between layers (halve if necessary, to fit), using them to level out crooked layers, if needed.
Dust with icing sugar and then serve immediately!
The top 2 layers are single serving size. The next 2 layers will serve 2 people each. The bottom 4 layers can be cut like traditional Pavs and will easily serve another 8 - 10 people.
1. Egg Whites:
For best results, use fresh eggs
DO NOT use carton egg whites - it doesn't fluff up nearly as well
Separate the egg whites from the yolks while fridge cold (it's easier to do than with warm eggs)
Measure out the egg whites until you have 2/3 cup / 170 ml. Sometimes this is 5 large eggs, sometimes it is 6 eggs;
Then leave it until it comes to room temperature, because cold eggs do not whip up as well. The cooking definition of "room temp" is 17 - 20°C / 63 - 68°F but you don't need to thermometer to check, just as long as the whites don't have the fridge chill, then they are fine to use.
2. Vinegar - Just plain white vinegar. Not anything fancy!3. Strawberry coulis - You could use 350g / 12oz diced strawberries instead of the raspberries.4. Skewer - If you don't have one long one, just use 2 shorter ones, sticky taped together to make 1 long one.5. Handheld beater - If using a handheld beater:
increase beating time of 6 minutes per recipe to 7 minutes. If your handheld beater is not very powerful, you may need even longer (be sure to do the Step 5 Meringue Test); and
use a large heavy based glass bowl so it will not move unaided. This way you can keep the beater going with one hand while adding sugar with the other (stopping/starting is a pain!)
6. Piping - Easiest and fastest way to make neat Pav Rounds. You can also just snip off corner of ziplock bag. Or dollop and spread using spoons. If using a star tip nozzle like I did so you can do decorative edges, use a wide one, otherwise it takes a long time to pipe the coils and the Pav Rounds will be too thin.7. Construction & decorating tips:
It is more stable than you expect, and at 25°C/77°F or less temperatures, should stand tall for 1 hour+ (in my experience, I've made 8 this year!). So don't stress, don't rush, but also don't take a nap mid-construction!
Remember, Pavs are SUPPOSED to look rustic, so stop fiddling with it! Also, the final dusting of lots of icing sugar makes anything look fabulous.
Beat the cream until stiff, not softly whipped like recipes usually call for (ie cream will be thick and look raggedy rather than a smooth dolloping consistency).
Don't weigh down Pav with too many berries, serve extra on the side.
With every layer, check to ensure it is level and straight (walk around).
Construct at or near where you are serving, preferably cool/air conditioned (pav and cream do not agree with heat and humidity!).
Use raspberries at the end to "level" any crooked layers by tucking them into the edges.
Sliding / collapsing? Don't worry!
If yours unfortunately collapses for some reason but is salvageable (ie. when Pav Rounds stay intact), put it back upright and hide mess with raspberries (see in post for the one I salvaged!).
If it is not salvageable, pile it up on a plate, as tall as you can, and proudly call it an Eton Mess! Decorate with lots and lots of berries, rosemary sprigs, icing sugar, and send me a photo - email@example.com ❤️ It might not look like what you wanted, but it will STILL be delicious!
8. Cream - Normal whipping cream will work fine too, I just prefer the extra safeguard of using thickened / heavy cream for whipping because they have extra thickening agents added that make them hold the aerated whipped texture for longer.9. Inspired by stunning creations spied on the internet, most notably this incredible Christmas Tree Pavlova by Not Quite Nigella! Recipes also referenced in pursuit of creating a structurally sound tree include this Jewelled Pavlova Tower from Sainsbury's Magazine, this Celebration Pavlova Tower and Julie Goodwin's Meringue Christmas Tree.10. MAKE AHEAD:
Pav Rounds can be made 24 hours ahead in hot weather, 48 hours ahead in mild weather. Store in airtight containers in the coolest part of your house (I keep mine in the downstairs laundry!) I often make Pavs in the evening then cool overnight in the oven.
Pavlovas do not like hot weather and humidity, it makes them sweat and break. Also, never refrigerate pavlovas!
Coulis can be made up to 2 days before, store in fridge.
Cream - Do not whip until just prior to using (it loses aeration).
Constructed Pavlova Christmas Tree - must be consumed, doesn't keep well at all!
11. Need a scaled down version? Just use less Pav Rounds and make a mini tree!