Pavlova, Australia’s national dessert, is one of my favorite desserts, both to eat and to make. It looks seriously complicated but couldn’t be easier. Its foundation (literally) is a cloud of meringue–crusty on the outside with a pillowy marshmallow interior. Next is a layer of sweetened whipped cream, and then usually a fruit of choice. I thought cranberry would be perfect for this Christmas Wreath Pavlova, and I happened to have these fantastic Sparkling Sugared Cranberries for a garnish.
All of the components (even the cranberries!) can be made up to two or three days ahead. I whipped up the meringue and baked it three days before my event, and wrapped it in plastic wrap and stored it in a cabinet (not the refrigerator, or else it will weep). I even whipped the cream the day before, sweetening it with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whipped cream stays fresh in the fridge for at least a few days. The cranberry syrup I saved from the Sparkling Sugared Cranberries got a new life in this dessert. I combined the syrup with a few handfuls of fresh cranberries, squeezed some satsuma (a local citrus similar to a tangerine) juice in there, and simmered it until it thickened and the cranberries popped. This I strained and reserved for drizzling over the finished pavlova.
Christmas Wreath Pavlova
A show-stopping Christmas dessert, this pavlova has it all: tart fruit, clouds of whipped cream, and airy meringue.
- 4 extra-large egg whites at room temperature
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Sweetened Whipped Cream see note
- Sparkling Sugared Cranberries
- Rosemary sprigs cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- Cranberry sauce see note
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 3 minutes.
With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 4 more minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
To make a wreath shape, spoon the meringue into a circle on the parchment paper and smooth the top, joining the dollops into a wreath.
Bake for 1 hour.
Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Wrap it in plastic wrap until you're ready to assemble it, ideally right before eating.
To assemble the pavlova, place the wreath on a plate (it will most likely crack as it cools--this is okay). Spoon whipped cream on top of the wreath and garnish with cranberry sauce, sugared cranberries, and rosemary or mint.
For the whipped cream, place 1.5 cups of heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer and whip until thick. Add 2 tablespoons vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whip until firm peaks.
For cranberry syrup, put reserved syrup from Sparkling Sugared Cranberries in a saucepan with 1 cup of fresh cranberries. Add the juice of one satsuma, orange, or clementine and simmer it until it's thick and the cranberries pop. Strain into a bowl and discard solids.