Made with fresh strawberries and topped with cream (or coconut cream), this Mini Strawberry Pavlova recipe is the perfect gluten free dessert for spring! Make it ahead of time for celebrations, holidays, and more. Dairy-free option included.
Keeping up with Spring Produce month – strawberries! We’re adding this delicious fresh fruit to the mix in the form of mini Strawberry Pavlova(s). Typically made in Australia or New Zealand, pavlovas are a meringue-based dessert named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. They’re made with a base of egg whites and caster sugar (ultra fine sugar). Known for its crisp crust with a light and fluffy inside, traditionally topped with fruit and whipped cream, this is the perfect dessert for every occasion and is naturally gluten-free! 🙌
This recipe was first taught to me by an Aussie! Then, I learned it again from my father-in-law who is from New Zealand. So, after all this training from those who know the dessert best, I decided to make my own version. Typically, kiwis (New Zealanders) add corn flour or nothing at all to the meringue batter. I opted to add corn starch (similar to corn flour) and reduced the sugar to lighten the dessert. Also, I made mini pavlovas for a single-serving version.
What turned out was even better than I expected! Perfectly light, fluffy, and completely adorable. These mini pavlovas are full of strawberry flavor for an irresistible dessert you’re going to want to make. If you’re looking for even more spring dessert recipes, be sure to take a look at these Two Bite Brownies with Strawberries, Vegan White Chocolate Raspberry Crispy Treats, or this Vegan Fruit Crumble. They’re all equally delicious, but for me, the pavlova takes the cake!
How to Make Strawberry Mini Pavlova
A quick note: to make this Strawberry Pavlova recipe, I added starch to help it stay firm at a higher altitude. Traditional recipes do not have this, but I highly recommend including it to ensure the recipe withstands the air pressure in the states!
Start by preheating the oven to 300°F (or 150°C). Next, add room-temperature egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer or an electric mixer. Whisk at a medium to high speed until stiff peaks form. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
Once you have the peaks, gradually add the sugar to the egg whites 1 tablespoon at a time. After every tablespoon, let the batter whisk together with the sugar for 20 seconds. Then, add 1 tablespoon of sugar, and repeat the steps until all of the sugar has been added. It takes 7-8 minutes to fully incorporate all of the sugar into the egg whites, they should look stiff and glossy by the end (below left).
Next, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the vinegar, corn starch, and vanilla. Use your mixer set on medium to high speed to mix the ingredients for another 2 minutes or until it is glossy and well-combined (above right).
Then, spoon 6-7 rounds of meringue batter (about 3 to 4 inches round) onto a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat. Then use the back of a spoon to make a crevice in the center of each meringue.
Add the pavlovas to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 250°F (or 125°C). Bake the meringues for 45 minutes to 1 hour. They should look slightly golden when done and have formed a bit of a crust on the outside. To finish, turn off the oven and let the meringue cool in the oven for 1 hour up to overnight. Whatever you do, do not open the oven until that hour is up! A slow cool will prevent collapsing of your pavlova.
Good to know info: Baking times vary depending on the size of the meringue. Since we are baking mini pavlovas the meringue batter should bake quicker. Even then, do not open the oven until that hour is up. You want to avoid the mini pavlovas from collapsing.
Basic Pavlova Baking Tips
I know Strawberry Pavlova can look super intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple to make! Even better, it’s sure to impress your guests. Some important tips to create the perfect mini pavlova include taking your time, avoiding over whipping your meringue, and using room temperature egg whites. If you’re looking for even more tips, this article from Donna Hays (my idol) has incredible scientifically-backed tricks to help ease your nerves about this recipe.
Pro Prep Tip: Be sure to measure the liquid of the 6 large egg whites (to 250 ml) to ensure the perfect light meringue whip!
Questions to consider – What’s the trick for baking pavlova or mini pavlovas?
Can Strawberry Pavlova be made dairy-free?
Yes, I made a dairy-free option of this Strawberry Pavlova by swapping out the whipped cream with my coconut whip recipe! Super easy. Note: Coconut whip is a bit heavier than regular whipped cream, so be mindful of how much you put on each pavlova. You don’t want them to collapse after baking.
Where can I find caster sugar for this Strawberry Pavlova recipe?
Caster sugar (also known as castor sugar) can be difficult to find in the states unless you order it. For a DIY method, I like to grind granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until ultra fine in texture. However, you can also look for Baker’s sugar like this one in your local grocery store.
Can mini pavlovas be made sugar-free?
Unfortunately, while I’ve tried time and time again (and will likely keep testing recipes), I have not been able to nail the fluffy texture of a traditional Strawberry Pavlova. It just isn’t the same.
Can Strawberry Pavlova be made ahead of time?
Yes and no. The meringue portion of this Strawberry Pavlova can be made 1-2 days ahead of time, but the pavlova itself should be made the day it is served. If you want to make the meringue ahead of time, be sure to carefully place it in an airtight container or wrap it with clingfilm. Just be warned that a shift in humidity may cause your meringue to flatten or deflate a bit.
So, there you have it, a super simple mini pavlova to satisfy all your fancy spring dessert needs.
Let me know if you make this recipe and what you’d like to see next!