This Strawberry Pavlova Nests Recipe stars delicate mini meringues filled with strawberry jam, then topped with fresh whipped cream and juicy strawberries. It’s a beautiful and easy dessert that’s perfect for Spring!
Mini Strawberry Pavlova Nests
Pavlova is one of my all-time favorite desserts! The sweet, delicate flavor and texture is so pleasing, and I love using fresh fruit as a garnish, especially strawberries, as in this recipe! It’s a pretty and tasty addition to any menu.
These mini pavlova “nests” have both fresh strawberries and strawberry jam in the middle. They pretty much scream SPRING! And while this dessert definitely looks fancy, it’s actually easy to make. It’s perfect for celebrating Easter, or Mother’s Day, with all those gorgeous pops of color.
What is a Pavlova?
A pavlova is a light and airy “cake,” made primarily of egg whites and sugar. It’s somewhat like a meringue, with a crisp outer layer, but has a soft interior almost like marshmallow! Pavlovas are usually decorated with fresh whipped cream and fresh, tender fruit, like strawberries or kiwi.
Pavlova is believed to have been invented in the 1920’s, and named in honor of the beautiful Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It’s not clear just who first came up with this dainty dessert, but many food historians think that it originated in Australia or New Zealand, where it’s still hugely popular.
Down in the Southern Hemisphere, Pavlova is especially popular at Christmas, which happens during their summer season. However, it’s also commonly considered an Easter dessert, perhaps thanks to its emphasis on eggs and light, fruit-centric flavors. I even made this recipe as mini pavlova “nests” to give them extra Easter flair!
What You’ll Need
This smooth and simple pavlova recipe only needs a few simple ingredients. You’ll fall in love with how beautiful (and delicious) they turn out!
For the Pavlova:
- Egg Whites: To make one batch of 15 mini pavlovas, have ready 6 egg whites at room temperature.
- Sugar: You’ll need 2 cups of granulated sugar.
- Cornstarch: To help stabilize the egg whites and give the pavlovas a silky feel, you’ll need to add 2 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch. You can also use arrowroot powder.
- Lemon Juice: Don’t skip this one! Half a tablespoon of lemon juice adds much-needed flavor and gives the pavlovas a nice texture as well.
- Vanilla: You’ll need 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- Whipping Cream: We’ll be making our own whipped cream, starting with 1 ½ cups of heavy whipping cream, chilled.
- Sugar: Just 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar are needed to sweeten the whipped cream.
- Strawberry Jam: Have on hand 1 small jar of strawberry jam for filling the pavlovas. Strawberry preserves are also great.
- Fresh Strawberries: Slice or halve fresh strawberries, for garnish.
- Powdered Sugar: For garnish, optional.
How to Make Pavlova
This is a fun and easy dessert to make. I chose to make mini pavlovas, but you could also make one larger pavlova, with a thin layer of jam and whipped cream on top.
- Prep the Egg Whites. Separate 6 egg whites from their yolks, being careful not to get any yolk into the whites. Place the egg whites in a small dish and allow to come to room temperature.
- Prep the Oven, Pan, and Piping Items. Preheat your oven to 225F. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. Fit your piping bag with a large tip and set aside.
- Beat Egg Whites. You can use a stand mixer or handheld mixer for this, or even beat by hand (that will take some time and arm strength, though!). Whichever you choose, make sure your mixing bowl is clean and dry. Beat the egg whites on HIGH for one or two minutes, or until soft peaks form.
- Beat In the Sugar. With the mixer still on, add the sugar a little bit at a time until dissolved. Once all the sugar is dissolved, continue beating for 8 minutes on HIGH speed, until stiff peaks form.
- Fold in Remaining Pavlova Ingredients. Once stiff peaks form, gently fold in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and corn starch. Once combined, scoop the finished pavlova mixture into the prepared piping bag.
- Shape the Mini Pavlovas. On the parchment lined baking sheet, pipe the meringue into roughly 3-inch nests. Gently press a spoon on the top to create a small indent.
- Bake and Cool. Bake for 1 hour at 225F. After the first hour, turn the oven off and keep the door closed. Let the pavlovas cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Then you can transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Whip Cream. When ready to serve, make the whipped cream. Place the chilled heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp of sugar in a mixing bowl, chilled if possible. Beat on HIGH for 3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- Assemble the Pavlovas. Place roughly 1 tablespoon of jam in the middle of each pavlova. Top with piped whipped cream, and half a strawberry. Enjoy!
Shaping the Pavlova
Since these pavlovas are filled, I like to make them in the shape of small nests with a slight indentation for the filling. You can also make little rounds like small flat cakes, or create little domes with flattened tops.
I’ve also seen tray-like pavlovas, round and flat with a rim around the top. It’s up to you!
How Do You Know When a Pavlova is Done?
The pavlova needs to cook low and slow, with a long, gentle cooling-off process. It should be done afterwards, and you can tell that it’s done if the sides and top feel firm and dry.
Also, a pavlova that’s done will peel away easily from the parchment paper you bake it on, while an underdone pavlova will not.
If you’re interested in other topping ideas besides strawberry, that’s great! Pavlovas are super versatile and can be flavored any way you like. I advise filling them with plenty of whipped cream, and then making…
- Lemon-Berry Pavlova: Dollop with lemon curd and sprinkle your favorite fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries on top.
- Baklava: Drizzle the pavlova with honey and add chopped pistachios. Roughly chop store-bought baklava and evenly sprinkle over the top.
- Chocolate Cherry: Top your pavlova with chocolate ganache, sprinkle with slivered almonds, and top with maraschino cherries.
- Watermelon Peach: Cut slices of watermelon into pretty shapes using small cookie cutters, and cut fresh peaches into slices. Arrange on the pavlova decoratively and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if the fruit is not very sweet.
- Peppermint Chocolate: Especially nice for the holidays, top your pavlova with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a sprinkle of crushed peppermints or candy canes. You could also use crushed spearmint candies for a classic mint-chocolate look and flavor.
Tips for Success
Making any kind of pavlova or meringue dessert can be a little tricky if you’re not familiar with them. That’s why I’ve collected these helpful tips to make sure your mini pavlovas turn out great, every time.
- Dissolve the Sugar. Make sure that you beat the sugar into the pavlova mixture very gradually, until each spoonful is dissolved fully. Sugar that doesn’t dissolve will turn water in the baking and cooling process.
- Don’t Overbeat the Cream: Keep in mind, whipping cream will break down if you overbeat it, turning into butter and whey! So stop beating once you see firm peaks.
- Skip the Humidity: Pavlova should be made on dry days only! Rain and humidity can cause the mixture to be sticky rather than crisp, resulting in a soft and soggy pavlova.
Troubleshooting: Why Did My Pavlova Crack?
- Pavlovas sometimes crack because the soft inside shrinks away from the outer crispy layer. To prevent this, be careful with beating the pavlova mixture. It should be stiff, glossy, and smooth. If the mixture becomes grainy, you’ll need to start over. A grainy mixture is likely to crack and leak moisture.
Mini Strawberry Pavlova Nests
For the Pavlova Base:
For the Toppings:
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup strawberry jam or preserves
- 8 fresh sliced or halved strawberries, for garnish
- Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)
- Separate 6 eggs from their yolks, being careful not to get any yolk in the whites. Place egg whites in a bowl and allow to sit on the counter to come to room temperature; about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. Fit your piping bag with a large tip. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer or mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites on HIGH for one to two minutes, or until soft peaks form. With the mixer still on, add the sugar a little bit at a time until dissolved. Once all the sugar is dissolved, continue beating for 6 to 8 minutes on HIGH speed, or until stiff peaks form.
- Once stiff peaks form, gently fold in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and corn starch. Once combined, scoop the pavlova mixture into the prepared piping bag.
- On the parchment lined baking sheet, pipe the meringue into roughly 3-inch nests. You should end up with about 12 to 15 nests, depending on how big you want to make them. Gently press a spoon on the top to create a small indent in the center.
- Bake the meringue nests for 1 hour at 225°F. After the first hour, turn the oven off and keep the door closed. Let the pavlovas cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Then you can transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In the meantime, place the chilled heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Place roughly 1 tablespoon jam in the center of each pavlova nest.
- Top with piped whipped cream and half of a fresh strawberry. Enjoy!