Tis the season for Passover treats, and mini pavlovas are the perfect, most delicious of make-ahead flourless treats. Crispy, lightly sweetened, meringue with a marshmallow-y, slightly chewy center, topped with plenty of whipped cream and a tart currant compote is what we’re talking about here. I’m partial to dinner party desserts made in advance, and this is now one of my faves. After a long stint in a low oven and then an overnight stay in a cool, dark one, pavlovas emerge room temp and ready to wait out the day (or two) til it is party time. Love that about them.I first made these when a gluten/dairy free friend — yes I have one or two of those, tho I try to keep it to a minimum (joke) — accepted an invite to dinner. I was at a loss as to what to make him, as the combo of no dairy and no gluten had me stumped (and, of course, all i really wanted to bake was cake).
But pavlovas came to mind, as I’d just borrowed Mary Berry’s Baking Bible from a friend, as I’m newly obsessed with all things Great British Bake Off — yes, I’m behind the eight ball on that — and Berry has a recipe for a pavlova that looked oh, so easy and delish. I checked in with Nigella and The Kitchn as well, just to confirm I understood the nuances of pavlova cookery. (FYI: All pavlova recipes are virtually the same, save for cooking temp and times). And went at it (in mini form).
All I can report back is: wow. For something so easy, they truly pack a punch. Not only did the no-gluten/dairy member of the party enjoy them (sans whipped cream), but his ultra-picky-eater-of-a-9-year-old ate them, as well as my not-super-into-sweets 10-year-old, and my often-more-critical-than-I’d-like husband. Everyone raved. It didn’t hurt that I topped them with a currant compote of sorts that is just to die for. Long story short, make these for anyone and everyone that comes to dinner. Serve them with a tart berry compote of your liking (i like this rhubarb berry compote, as well as the currant one in the recipe). And do so often.
mini pavlovas with red currant compote and cream
for the pavlovas
- 6 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups super fine sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder
- 2 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
for the currant compote
- 4 cups currants frozen is fine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
for the whipped cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
for the pavlovas
- preheat the oven to 275 degrees. line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. set aside.
- place the whites and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk on medium until soft peaks form. add the sugar VERY slowly and then the arrowroot powder, and continue whisking on medium high, until the meringue is glossy and thick and stiff. add the vinegar and vanilla and whisk to incorporate.
- divide the meringue into ten 1/2 cup portions between the two pans, and using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the meringue just a bit, flattening the tops. make an indent in the center of each pavlova for your fruit and cream. ideally you want short and squat shapes, as opposed to super thin ones.
- transfer the sheets to the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until dry to the touch, checking on and rotating the meringues at the half way point. if they are taking on any color, reduce the temp to 250 degrees.
- when dry to the touch, turn the oven off and keep the meringues in the oven, with the oven door closed, until they reach room temperature, this will take at least four hours and is best achieved by leaving them in the oven overnight.
to make the compote
- combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. then continue to cook the currants until they simmer. continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and reduces. set aside.
to make the whipped cream
- place the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk until soft peaks form.
to assemble the mini pavlovas
- transfer the meringues to serving plates. top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and currant compote.
i made these once and took from the oven when they were still warm. although delish, they lacked the marshmallow-y middles that i so love. so word to the wise: try to keep the pavlovas in the oven as long as possible and definitely til they are room temp.