Greet your Christmas guests with a stunning holiday door wreath, then wow them at the table with this delectable, edible Pavlova wreath adorned with sugared cranberries.
Never made — or even heard of — a Pavlova? Let this be the year you bring a surprise to your Christmas dessert offerings!
Wildly popular in Australia and New Zealand, Pavlova is a lovely meringue-like cake with a crisp crust and soft interior that is traditionally topped with whipped cream and fruit.
Though these two countries have a long-standing debate about the origin of the dessert, they both agree that it was named after the beloved Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
The perfect Pavlova
The key to success in making a perfect Pavlova is beating the egg whites until they reach their maximum volume.
Start with room-temperature egg whites — make sure that the whisk and bowl are impeccably clean and grease-free before beating. This meringue needs to be baked slowly and then allowed to cool for four hours.
Line a large baking sheet (at least 13 x 18 inches) with parchment paper.
In a food processor, place the sugar and grind until fine. Pour sugar into a medium bowl.
Sift cornstarch through a sifter and place in small bowl.
In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high until stiff.
Continue to beat, gradually adding in sugar. Beat until dissolved.
Add lemon juice and vanilla bean paste.
Slowly add cornstarch. Beat on high until mixture is stiff and glossy peaks form, about 3–5 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently shape meringue into a ring on top of the baking sheet.
Reduce oven temperature to 200F.
Bake meringue for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Turn off oven and leave meringue in oven until totally cooled (about 4 hours).
Before decorating, gently transfer the meringue to a platter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
Gently spread whipped cream evenly over top of meringue wreath, or using a frosting bag with a wide tip, pipe whipped cream as desired on top of meringue.
Decorate the top with sugared cranberries and fresh citrus leaves.
Note: *The Pavlova can be made ahead a few days and stored in an airtight container or wrapped gently (but completely) with plastic wrap. Add the whipped cream and fruit right before serving, as the moisture from both (as well as weight) will begin to break down the Pavlova.