If there is ever a show stopper of a dessert that’s really just a big, easy “cheat” it’s got to be Pavlova. And this White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova is a perfect ending for a summer party.
Bring out the White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova on a big platter or a cake stand and I guarantee you’re going to get oohs and ahs. Passing extra strawberries on the side is always recommended! This is a low effort (but does take time) and high pay off recipe that you and your guests (or family) are going to love.
About White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova:
I love Pavlova. Technically, it’s a meringue but it doesn’t taste like the meringue that most of us are familiar with, the airy topping piled onto pie. Some people say it’s like marshmallow, but it really isn’t. The outside has a kind of crispiness that keeps the whole thing interesting and inside it’s a kind of ooey, gooey deliciousness that melds with the whipped cream filling. It’s rich and beautiful and there’s nothing like it.
The Pavlova for the White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova will crack in the oven. That’s normal. After it’s cool, you’ll want to take a big spoon and push it down a bit around the center, leaving the edges intact. That gets filled with billowy whipped cream, then the Strawberries (or another topping if you prefer – Pavlova works with so many fruits) are piled high. The juices run down the sides and mingle with the Pavlova. The combo of strawberries and cream is just the perfect summery dreamy dessert. You can never go wrong with it.
I love strawberries and for a few years grew them in my garden and when I lived in Colorado, I had those itty bitty fragrantly floral mountain strawberries! Amazing. Strawberries from the store can be hit and miss, but one way to bring that strawberry flavor forward is to add just a touch of something. A few drops of Grand Marnier, a tiny splash of white wine or in this case, white balsamic vinegar. You won’t know it’s vinegar in there – it just enhances the strawberry flavor. A few cracks of black pepper, if you’re feeling bold, adds a lot of interest.
Making White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova:
I was inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe but wasn’t super happy with the results. I assumed I had done something wrong and made it again. Same results. So I went a little rogue and put together my own White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova. I think you’ll love the results when you make it. And I hope you do – everyone should taste this at least once in their lives! You’ve gotta try White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova even if meringue isn’t normally your “thing.” Even if it isn’t chocolate!
Pavlova often has a touch of vinegar, an acid ingredient, but I opted for cream of tartar. It helps to stabilize the whipped egg whites and it’s a kind of “one-off” ingredient for some people. Buy a small jar – it keeps, literally, for years. When I made my Pavlova with the vinegar, it was more prone to slumping rather than standing tall but the cream of tarter did the trick. The other secret ingredient is a little cornstarch. It makes the Pavlova creamier, rather than just airy, almost pudding-like, and that texture is the key difference between Pavlova and a plain old Meringue.
Being a rather smallish Pavlova by Pavlova standards (4 egg whites) I wanted to make it look like more and wanted it on the tall side. And I wanted it to fit my cake stand with room for the strawberry sauce to spill over. So to determine the size, measure your cake stand, then make the Pavlova about an inch and a half smaller. For my 8″ cake stand that was 6 1/2 inches so I traced around a 6″ pan, holding the pencil at an angle so it was about 1/4 inch outside the pan edges. That worked so much better for me than blindly following instructions on the size of the Pavlova.
Saving Money on White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova:
If you don’t have white balsamic for the strawberries, use whatever balsamic you have, preferably the best, rather than buying a whole bottle for a couple teaspoons. A dark balsamic is going to be a little stronger, so go by taste. I keep both kinds of balsamic in my pantry because I make a lot of dressings. And if you’ve never had white balsamic with peaches or nectarines, you’ve been missing out!
The berries are the obvious pricey ingredient, here. I picked mine up from Aldi at $1.29 a package (that’s a 16-ounce package) about half of the sale price at my grocery store. Berries can be pricey but if you plan your berry indulgences around the store sales (2 packages for $5.00 in my area) you can have your berries and eat them, too. It never hurts to be flexible in the fruit you serve. Pick up what’s on sale. Use it often during the week, then hit up the next fruit on sale the following week. What’s on sale usually travels fast and will be your best bet for freshness.
The cream is another item that’s potentially very pricey. Again, Aldi has great prices and cream is usually on sale during holiday sales. Cream (with its high fat content) keeps for several weeks in the fridge and doesn’t take up a ton of room. Pick it up at a low. I always try to pick up extra eggs when they’re on sale, again, usually during holidays.
This is a perfect dish to use up any extra egg whites you might have (See my post, Over 75 Ways to Use Leftover Egg Whites.) Yolks can be stored in a small dish, covered with a film of water for two to three days or frozen, but there’s a special consideration. They need something to keep them from becoming gelatinous. For four egg yolks, 1/4 cup, stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt to use in savory dishes or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar for sweet. Label properly. One tablespoon of the yolk mixture equals one egg yolk.
White Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova
- Parchment paper
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Prepare parchment paper as instructed in the post. Turn parchment over and place on baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. before starting recipe. (See note.)
Beat eggs until foamy. Mix together the cream of tartar, sugar and a pinch of salt. With mixer running, gradually and slowly add sugar mixture. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn mixer on to high and beat until very stiff peaks form. A beater, when pulled out, should leave a trail that doesn’t bend over. Sprinkle cornstarch over the mixture and fold in.
Working quickly, place the whipped egg whites in dollops on the parchment, staying inside the circle. Use roughly smooth out the top (doesn’t need to be perfect), then use the spatula to roughly even the edges, then to make a few quick strokes, working around the outside edges, from the bottom to the top. Roughly smooth any big “gobs” of meringue *that might have collected at the top edge) across the top of the Pavlova.
Open oven and quickly put in Pavlova and close the door. Immediately turn heat down to 200 degrees. Bake from an hour to an hour and ten minutes until meringue is set. It should not be browned and cracks are to be expected. Turn oven off and leave for 3 hours. Remove Pavlova and let sit until completely cool.
Using a large spoon, work across the top of the Pavlova, pressing down lightly so there is a well in the center. Leave edges as is.
Strawberries in White Balsamic
- 16 ounces of strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
- sugar, if needed, up to two teaspoons
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, optional
Gently mix together all ingredients. Let sit, covered, at room temperature for up to two hours, but at least 15 minutes.
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, if desired
Whip cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
Place Pavlova on a platter or cake stand. Fill center with whipped cream. Top with Strawberries, using some to top and some to pass, if desired. Best if eaten same day.
- Preheat oven early. Ovens cycle colder and hotter and the Pavlova needs to go into a hot oven to “set” it. A little extra preheat time means the whole oven will be hot and not just the “air” so when the door is opened and the hot air escapes your Pavlova will still benefit from the most heat possible.
- This is a lot of sugar, but it is granulated, not super fine, so the volume is greater. The pavlova is sweet but is balanced by the whipped cream and lightly sweetened strawberries.
- If you wish to be more extravagant, double the strawberry mixture.