Mini Palovas are a special dessert any time and especially for the holidays. Crisp on the outside and chewy inside, light and airy. Add a dollop of whipped cream, fresh berries or a scoop of our Cranberry Compote for an elegant skinny dessert!
This mini pavlovas recipe is a special meringue desert that's easy to make. It has the airy meringue consistency with a nice chewy inside texture. Serving individual pavlovas feels special and is automatically portion controlled!
There are so many ways to top them! Whipping cream is traditional and creates a lofty bed to pile on fresh berries which are delicious and low calorie too. But that's just a start for how to top the meringue nests! More ideas below.
Baking traditional pavlova on a very low temperature allows them to set without cracking and to stay a beautiful white color. Be sure to check out the Expert Tips that will help you make perfect pavlova every time!
What is Pavlova?
I originally learned of the dessert from a long time friend who lives in New Zealand where it's served as a traditional Christmas dinner dessert. The beautiful white airy dessert is a favorite for good reason!
Pavlova originates in New Zealand, though its name is derived from a Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. The now popular dessert was created for her while she was on tour in New Zealand in 1920.
The dessert is a meringue (really egg whites and sugar) that is baked at a lower temperature to achieve a crisp exterior and a creamy marshmallow-like interior (though it is not sticky).
Cooking at low temperature keeps it white as new snow in color. As with other meringues it cooks then cools very slowly in an unopened oven until it's fully set. This prevents it from cracking when exposed to colder temperatures.
What makes this skinny?
The pavlova meringues are light and airy as well as portion controlled by making them both mini and individual serving size. Each of these mini meringues has only 108 calories.
The whipped cream on top is optional and can be low calorie, low sugar or low fat. Topping with fresh strawberries or other fresh berries keeping the mini pavlova nests delicious and lower calorie.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Egg Whites. You'll use 4 large egg whites. Be sure they are at room temperature so they will whip up well. Also when separating the yolk and white so not let any of the yolk get into the egg white.
Granulated sugar. This will be added slowly to sweeten the meringue.
Cornstarch. This is a key ingredient in pavlovas! It creates a marshmallow-texture inside and crisp outside.
Distilled white vinegar. This may seem an odd ingredient for a dessert but it's key! Vinegar helps to stabilize the beaten egg whites and for the meringue to hold the whipped air created when beating the egg whites. You won't taste any vinegar.
Vanilla extract. Gives flavor to the pavlova.
How to make Mini Pavlovas
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Draw 8 4-inch circles on the parchment paper and turn it over to be facing the baking sheet (or the markings will transfer to the pavlova). This will be your size guide to make the mini pavlovas.
STEP 2. Make the meringue
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a large mixing bowl with an hand held electric mixer) beat the egg whites (photo 1) on medium-high until the whites form firm peaks without being stiff or dry.
While mixer is still running sprinkle the sugar a tablespoon at a time (photo 2) into the mixing bowl and beat until fully incorporated; it will be glossy in appearance (photos 3-4).
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla. Mix to dissolve the cornstarch. Pour into the mixing bowl and fold by hand into the lofty egg white mixture.
STEP 3. Bake and Cool
Spoon or pipe the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet into the drawn circle (if piping we recommend a 1M star piping tip). Spread or pipe the pavlova to the meet the diameter of the circle (photo 5). Create an indentation on top with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven, leaving the pavlova in the oven for an additional 2 hours; do not to open the oven during this time. Remove from the oven to cool fully (photo 6).
Scoop or pipe. The circles of meringue can be spooned for a more rustic look or piped for a formal appearing meringue dessert.
Whichever way you make them be sure to create an indentation on the top. For the spooning method you can do this with the back of a spoon. The indentation allows adding a topping without it all falling off when finishing and serving them.
Piping the meringues. Fit a piping bag with a large 1M star tip and spoon the white meringue mixture into the piping bag. Pipe the pavlovas on the circles you've drawn. Pipe it leaving an indentation or make on with the back of the spoon.
Don't allow any egg yolk to be in the egg whites. This can affect how they whip up.
Start with a clean bowl (mixing bowl).. Any fat or moisture in the bowl can affect how the eggs whip. Make sure it's a clean mixing bowl and dry.
Whip the eggs just until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat or the egg whites or they will deflate as you assemble the rest of the recipe.
Add the sugar just a tablespoon at a time. This may seem fussy but if added all at once the sugar will cause the egg whites to collapse and a meringue won't form correctly.
Make an indentation on the top. Whether spooning the pavlovas or piping them, leave an indentation in the top to fill with a topping! They hold their shape when cooking so however they look going into the oven is how they will come out.
Have oven fully heated before starting the recipe. Once the pavlovas are ready to bake they need to go into the oven immediately.
Do not allow any fat or moisture on the parchment paper. Be sure after preparing the parchment no cooking spray or moisture gets on the parchment paper.
Don't open the oven door! Opening the oven can let in cold air that can cause the pavlovas to crack. Resist the urge!
One of the fun things about mini pavlovas is topping them. They are perfect any time of the year.
- A dollop of whipped topping (this can be low sugar or low fat)
- Fresh fruit. For the Christmas holiday I love combining cut up kiwi, fresh raspberries, pomegranate arils (seeds) and garnish with fresh mint leaves. It's a pretty color combination and delicious. This can be added on top of whipped topping or by it's self. If topping with fruit any water from rinsing the fruit can begin to dissolve the pavlova which makes a whipped topping layer beneficial.
- Preserves or compote. A spoonful on top like our Cranberry Compote. This can be tailored for any season.
How to store
Cooked pavlovas can be stored for 1 day in an airtight container at room temperature in dry conditions. Store them before adding a topping.
Bonus recipe: Cranberry Compote
Cranberry Compote is similar to cranberry sauce with less sugar. We added a thickening agent as well to give it a thicker creamy consistency. It's perfect to serve with these mini pavlovas, mixed into yogurt, on pancakes and more.
The ingredients are simple and the cooking process is very much like cranberry sauce with the addition of a cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken it (photos 7-8 show the cooking process). Fresh cranberries or frozen and thawed cranberries can be used.
We've included the calories and Weight Watchers points in the Notes of the recipe card.
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