I think a pavlova is the perfect holiday dessert. It is beautiful enough to be a centerpiece on your table, so light that it can follow a big holiday meal and its flavors can change with your every whim.
This Boozy Cherry Pavlova was inspired by the cherry cordial filling in the chocolates that are a holiday stocking tradition in my house. I cooked the cherries in champagne, cherry juice, and just a touch of sugar until they created a boozy syrup. This can be done with just juice for a virgin cherry variation.
The pavlova also has a layer of lemon curd and lots of whipped cream. “Man, this is delicious!” was the response from my always willing (and very opinionated) taster (and husband). You can see how I baked the pavlova in this shape in my “Pavlova” IGTV on Instagram.
So many people asked about baking Mini Pavlovas that can be individual servings, so I created a video for that too. The recipe and directions are below, but to watch me make the mini Boozy Cherry Pavlovas and how I fill them, watch this mini pavlova IGTV video.
If you are looking for the equipment I use in any of my recipes, you can find them all here, on my ZoeBakes Kitchen Essentials page, where you can also find my list of favorite cookbooks and sign up for any updates – I add to it with every post.
- 150g egg whites, at room temperature approximately 5 egg whites
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar optional. It will make the meringue stronger, especially if you have older, weaker egg whites.
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 250g superfine sugar 1 1/4 cups
- 1 tsp vinegar white wine, cider or distilled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract homemade vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp corn starch
- 4 cups fresh or frozen, pitted sweet and/or sour cherries fresh cherries will take much longer to break down and cook, so lower the heat
- 2 cups cherry or pomegranate or cranberry juice anything tart and red, preferably without added sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cups prosecco, cava, or champagne or 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2-1/4 cup sugar this will depend on how sweet your cherries, juice, and wine are. You want them to be rich and sweet, but not cloyingly so
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- pinch salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter cold
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream whipped to soft peak for filling
- fresh cherries or fresh figs for topping
- rosemary or savory sprigs
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Trace eight 3-inch circles on a piece of parchment and set it in a baking sheet.
- Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt together until medium-stiff peaks.
- Add the water slowly while whipping the whites on low speed. Drizzle in the sugar, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff peaks.
- Fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.
- Bake at 275°F for 15 minutes or until the meringue starts to turn a very pale tan color, then reduce the heat to 225°F and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven (don't open the door), turn on the light in the oven (don't stress if the light doesn't work) and let the meringue sit in the cooling oven for a couple hours, or even over night.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, yolks, and salt. Add the butter and set over a double boiler.
- Use a rubber spatula to stir the lemon curd until it starts to thicken. It should coat the spatula and cling to it before you remove it from the heat.
- Cook the cherries, juice, lemon, booze, and sugar down until the juices are the thickness of maple syrup. Allow to cool. This can be made days in advance.
- This can be done several hours before serving. The pavlova actually benefits from some time sitting in the refrigerator. It makes it easier to slice if it is not served immediately.
- Fold together 3/4 of the lemon curd with 3/4 of the whipped cream. Pipe the lemon curd/cream filling into the cavity of the pavlova. Don't come quite to the top. There may be some leftover filling, depending on how deep the cavity of your pavlova. Snack on any remaining filling.
- Spread the remaining lemon curd over the filling, then top with the remaining whipped cream. Top with boozy cherries, fresh fruit, and garnish with herbs.