Perfect Swiss Meringue Pavlova with Manuka Honey Whipped Cream
Hi! I hope you’ve had a great week - mine was filled with an excessive amount of pavlovas. I’ve made 16 in the last two weeks on the quest to find the perfect pavlova recipe (perfect to me anyway), which is, to me, a super fluffy, full interior, and a perfect, pale, but thick crusted exterior.
I grew up eating pavlova - I come from a huge family, and so there were at least two at every gathering, and it is my Mum’s go-to dessert, so I’ve probably had hundreds over the course of my life, but it wasn’t until I moved away from home that it ever occurred to me to make my own, and I’ve been on a bit of a mission to develop the perfect one since, but never really got around to it until this week.
Pavlovas can be notoriously fussy, particularly when it comes to the weather. It is super humid in NYC and so I wanted to develop something that would stand up to the humidity, and so I turned to Swiss Meringue. Pavlova is traditionally made with a french meringue (egg whites and sugar whipped together), while a Swiss meringue involves cooking together the egg whites and sugar over a water bath before whipping them up. This additional step creates a much more stable meringue, which is much more forgiving, and much more resistant to humidty than a French meringue. I made the one in the photos while it was pouring down with rain, and it came out perfectly!
When I was developing this recipe, my focus was more on getting that nice thick exterior crust and a super full inside, rather than worrying too much about the pavlova cracking. Cracking is just something that happens sometimes, and to be honest, it’s not the end of the world. I was able to get a crack-free outer by keeping the temperature super low and baking the pavlova for a long time, but the inside slumped down and I was left with a hollow pavlova, which wasn’t as nice to eat.
The majority of my testing was playing around with the bake times and temperatures of the pavlova. Too high and the pavlova would come out too golden and would get a little slumpy, and too low and it wouldn’t get totally crispy before the inside filling started to drop down. Initially I was testing without the addition of lemon juice and corn starch, as I figured the meringue was already stable from the cooking, but I added it in after a few tests and found that it made a huge difference in how pale the outside of the pavlova stayed, and also how full the interior was. 2 tsp of each seemed to be the perfect amount - just enough to help stabilise but not enough to make the meringue chalky or overly lemony in flavour.
Once I had the perfect base, it of course deserved the perfect topping, and I went for a double hit of Kiwiana - Zespri Sungold Kiwifruit, and Comvita Manuka Honey. I made a honey whipped cream, which is exactly what it sounds like, and because there is no heat involved, you get all the good stuff from the Manuka Honey. Comvita has a whole range of beautiful honeys - I used the UMF 5+ (they have a bunch of other varieties too), and it was perfect to lightly sweeten the cream while providing such a nice delicate honey flavour.
Kiwifruit is a pretty traditional pavlova topping - I like the green ones, but the golden ones are my favourite. They are bald as opposed to furry, so you can eat the skin, and they are a bit sweeter than the green. They were the perfect accompaniment to the whipped cream, and the slight tartness cut through the sweetness of the pavlova so well. You could also do a mix of the green and the golden if you liked, for some colour variation. Perfect Pavlova, Honey whipped cream, and beautiful yellow Kiwifruit are the dream team.
I hope you give this pavlova a go! x
A few wee tips:
Your Grandma / Mum / Dad / Grandad / Friend might have a great no-fail pavlova recipe too and that’s all good! This is just another version.
200g of egg whites is about 6 eggs worth, just for when you are working out approximately how much you need!
You can eat the skin of a Sungold Kiwifruit! I left it on for colour contrast when I was shooting, but you can take it off too if you like.
Pavlova is great to make ahead - once you have made it, store in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap (just wrap the whole tray up), until you serve.
Assemble the pavlova close to serving if you can, to help prevent it from going too soggy when the cream comes in contact with the meringue.
Make sure your oven is the correct temperature! If you bake this too hot the outside will go a wee bit golden, or the inside will slump down. Baking for too long causes the inside filling to separate from the crust and you will have a wee gap. It will still taste delicious, but might be a little bit hollow. I really recommend getting an oven thermometer just to make sure your oven is calibrated.
I cooked this on conventional, not on fan. If your oven only has fan, you will need to adjust the temperature a little.
The eggs get cooked over the water bath with the sugar, so there is no need for them to be at room temperature - straight from the fridge is fine!
Make sure your mixing bowl is nice and clean so that the meringue whips up nicely! You can clean it with soap and water and allow to dry thoroughly, or you can wipe the inside down with a piece of lemon to help remove any specks of grease.
My stand mixer bowl is metal, so I just cook the meringue in the water bath directly in the bowl. If yours is not, just use a heatproof bowl for the water bath and then transfer.
Have your cornflour and lemon juice all ready to go in! I like to prep them while the meringue is whipping.
I haven’t tried making this with a hand mixer but it would probably be ok! You just want to whip until you have really stiff peaks. It will likely take longer than 4 minutes, so just watch carefully.
Perfect Swiss Meringue Pavlova with Manuka Honey Whipped Cream
- Makes one Pavlova - serves about 8 -
Swiss Meringue Pavlova
200g egg whites
350g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp corn starch (cornflour if you are in in NZ)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Manuka Honey Whipped Cream
350g heavy whipping cream
45g Comvita Manuka Honey
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Pinch of Kosher salt, to taste
6-7 Zespri Sungold Kiwifruit, to finish, cut into wedges (peeled or unpeeled depending on preference - you can eat the skin, I decided to keep it on for presentation but you can peel them too if you like)
- PROCESS -
SWISS MERINGUE PAVLOVA
Preheat the oven to 335°f / 170°c (conventional, not fan bake). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw an 8” (20cm) circle on it using a round object (I used a cake pan). Set aside while you are making the meringue.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (see notes), or in a heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine. Set the bowl over a small pan of simmering water to make a double boiler - make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Whisking constantly, heat the egg and sugar mixture until it reads 170°f / 76°c on an instant read thermometer, and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (be careful grabbing it as it will be hot).
Whip the mix on high speed for 4 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed that are just starting to clump inside the whisk. This may take a little longer depending on your mixer’s motor capability. Turn the mixer to low, add in the lemon juice and corn starch, then whip on high speed for a further minute to ensure that the mix is well combined.
Using a little of the meringue on an offset spatula or spoon, place a blob in each corner of the baking sheet, and use it to stick down the parchment paper so that it does not move when you are shaping the pavlova.
Scrape out the meringue mixture onto your prepared baking sheet, within the circle that you have drawn. Using an offset spatula, and staying inside the circle, spread out the meringue into a mound, then shape it so that it resembles a short cylinder - I like to make it into a mound first, then use the spatula to shape the edges and make them straight, then smooth off the top. You can go around as many times as needed to get it the right shape. I make mine just a little smaller than the drawn circle. If you would like to leave yours rustic then you can, or you can smooth off the edges and top with your spatula, then using the back of a teaspoon, create ridges by dragging upward on the sides of the pavlova (This video shows the process very well).
Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 220°f / 105°c. Bake the pavlova for two hours, then, WITHOUT OPENING THE DOOR, turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven for a minimum of two hours. You can check on it toward the end of the cooling time, but do not open it at the start as you do not want to shock the pavlova, which can cause it to slump. Some cracks on the top and the edges are totally normal. Do not freak out about them. Take this from me, as someone who freaks out about everything - it will be ok. That is what the cream is for.
Remove the pavlova from the oven and either transfer to a serving platter carefully, or store until serving (see notes).
MANUKA HONEY WHIPPED CREAM
Place the heavy cream, Comvita Manuka Honey, vanilla bean paste, and salt in a large bowl. Using a whisk (I prefer to whip cream by hand as it gives me more control), whip the cream until it is still pillowy, and not quite holding a peak. If you go too far and it looks a little grainy, you can add in a little more liquid cream and mix to combine.
Prepare your Sungold Kiwifruit - either peel or leave un peeled, and cut into wedges. To do this I slice each end off, then slice the fruit in half vertically, and lay each half cut side down, then slice that lengthwise again, then into wedges.
When you are ready to serve, pile the whipped cream on top of the pavlova, and top with the Kiwifruit. Leave to stand for 5 minutes or so before cutting.
Store leftovers lightly covered in plastic wrap in the fridge.