Crisp on the outside but fluffy and sweet on the inside, this winter pavlova is one of the best Christmas desserts. With just a few simple ingredients and toppings, you can make a show stopping dessert that will have your guests ooohing and aaahhing all night long! Read below for the details.
What is a Winter Pavlova?
A winter pavlova consists of a meringue based “cake,” orange mascarpone cream, sugared cranberries, cranberry pomegranate sauce, and pomegranate arils. The gingerbread cookies are optional, but they pair really well with the cranberry pomegranate flavors.
A pavlova all on its own is very basic. It’s made up of egg whites, superfine sugar, cream of tartar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. The outside is crisp, but the inside is marshmallowy and soft.
It’s a wonderful combination of textures, especially when combined with slightly tart or acidic fruits and fillings.
Because the pavlova is very sweet, the toppings need to have some acidic contrast so it’s not sickly sweet. And this winter Christmas pavlova is the perfect combination of sweet, acidic, and tart.
How to Mix a Pavlova the Right Way
Mixing the pavlova correctly is crucial to success. Even though I’ve made pavlova several times before, I was struggling to get mine to work this go around.
Two of my test batches weeped sugar during baking, another didn’t bake long enough and collapsed partially (still totally fine to eat), and finally I made this pavlova that turned out beautifully. Even though I know how to make this dessert, I was doubting myself (can you relate?).
Let me tell you, it’s a terrible feeling to look in the oven and see little bits of sugar weeping from the bottom of the dessert. There’s no going back, and no way to fix it.
You can most definitely still eat it if the sugar doesn’t liquify too much, but it’s not ideal. If you want to learn more about how to make a foolproof pavlova and all the important details, check out my post here.
Here’s how to mix a pavlova properly so that it doesn’t weep or collapse during baking.
Mix on Low
Mixing on a lower speed is crucial to getting the correct consistency and airation. If you mix on a high speed, too much air gets incorporated, and the winter pavlova will most likely collapse during baking. There are other reasons for collapsing here as well.
Mix on a speed no higher than 4-5 on a 10 speed mixer. This ensures that the meringue whips up really stable without too much air.
Use Superfine Sugar
Can you use granulated sugar? Yes. Is it more difficult to dissolve? Yes. Do I recommend it? No, not really because the chance of the sugar weeping is much higher.
If you do not have superfine sugar or caster sugar at home, put the granulated sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse. Do this until the sugar is fine and powdery, and it will dissolve MUCH easier in the pavlova meringue.
When you mix the pavlova, it’s important to add at least one stabilizer. I add some cream of tartar and salt right at the start, both of which have important functions in the pavlova.
The cream of tartar is an acid that helps stabilize the meringue. The salt also helps stabilize the meringue, and it cuts the sweetness slightly. It’s rare that you will find a dessert on my website that doesn’t have salt. It plays such an important role in balancing out the flavor profiles.
Mix Until Sugar Dissolves
How do you know if the sugar is dissolved in your pavlova meringue? When the meringue has reached stiff peaks, dip a finger into the meringue and rub it between two fingers. If you feel any granules of sugar, it still needs to mix longer.
Repeat this test until you can’t feel anymore sugar granules. Fully dissolved sugar = no weeping!
*This is where I failed on the first two tester pavlovas. I could still feel some tiny bits of sugar, but I was worried about over mixing the meringue. Once I let go of that worry, it wasn’t a weeping mess anymore, and the meringue wasn’t over mixed.
Also, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl really well a couple of times during mixing to make sure there is no sugar left on the sides.
The Best Winter Pavlova Toppings
For this particular winter pavlova recipe, I wanted it to look, feel, and taste like Christmas. When picking out toppings and creams for any pavlova, think about their sweetness level. You should always pick something with some acidity or tartness to go on top.
Start by adding a layer of whipped cream or curd to the pavlova. In this recipe, I added orange zest and mascarpone to the whipped cream, and it adds a nice touch of acidity with out being over powering.
Next, make a cranberry pomegranate sauce (details below) and pour some of it over the cream. Top it with sugar cranberries, pomegranate arils, and orange slices if desired.
You could also just use oranges and cranberries and skip the pomegranate as an alternate flavor combination.
Any of these Christmas pavlova toppings work well with the sweetness of the dessert, so use one or use all of the flavors. And I highly recommend alllll of the flavors!Print
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Cake
For the Winter Pavlova
- 230 grams egg whites (about 7 egg whites)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 310 grams superfine sugar*
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp lemon juice
For the Orange Cream
- (237 ml) heavy cream, chilled (1 cup)
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
For the Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
- 273 ml water (1 1//2 cups)
- 250 grams sugar (1 1/4 cups)
- 6 oz cranberries
- Pomegranate arils of 1 pomegranate
- Preheat oven to 300 and prepare 1 half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Draw an 8 inch circle on the parchment, then flip the parchment over so the pencil side is down on the half sheet pan.
- Next, clean your mixing bowl and whisk with some vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any oils.
- Add the room temperature egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt to the mixing bowl and mix on speed 4 for a 10 speed mixer.
- Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time every 30-60 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl 4-5 times when adding the sugar so that all of the sugar gets mixed in. If any sugar remains undissolved, this will cause the mini lemon pavlovas to weep.
- Mix on speed 4 until stiff peaks form, which takes about 25-35 minutes from start to finish. To test for stiff peaks, lift the whisk attachment out of the bowl and see if the pavlova meringue stands up straight. If not, mix longer until stiff peaks.
- Add the cornstarch and lemon juice and mix for about 30 seconds.
- Spoon the meringue onto the parchment in the circle, keeping it high.
- Gently spread the meringue out to fill the circle and make upward furrows around the sides so that it helps the meringue to rise up and not outward.
- Make the top of the pavlova flat or slightly like a bowl.
- Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for 90 minutes, then turn the oven off, and let the pavlova rest in the oven for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Do NOT open the oven for any reason once the pavlova is in the oven, otherwise it can deflate. Keep the oven closed until the pavlova has baked and cooled completely.
- You can make the pavlova a day ahead store it in an airtight container without the toppings, but it is best eaten within 1-2 days.
To Make the Orange Cream
- Whip heavy cream until medium stiff peaks form. Add orange zest and mascarpone and mix for 30 seconds.
To Make the Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until berries easily break down when pressed with the back of a spoon.
- Press sauce through a fine mesh strainer to leave pomegranate seeds and cranberry skins behind.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours before pouring onto pavlova.
To Assemble the Winter Pavlova
- Top the pavlova with orange cream, cranberry pomegranate sauce, fresh pomegranate arils, sugared cranberries, and gingerbread cookies (optional). Add toppings right before serving or within an hour of serving.
- Don’t add toppings far in advance, as the toppings make the pavlova dissolve some from the added moisture.
*If you don’t have superfine sugar, pulse granulated sugar in a blender until fine and powdery.
Keywords: winter pavlova, cranberry pomegranate sauce, sugared cranberries