Pavlovas for Passover

  • Beautiful and impressive-looking, Pavlovas are surprisingly easy and foolproof to make. You can make their meringue bases ahead of time — even the day before — and cut and macerate the berries in advance. Leslie Brenner

  • The centerpiece of this dish, ripe strawberries are soaked in lemon or orange liqueur. Leslie Brenner

  • Ripe strawberries in season. (Leslie Brenner/Dallas Morning News/TNS) Leslie Brenner

The Dallas Morning News
Published: 4/12/2019 11:37:11 AM

What's a Pavlova? It's an Australian dessert named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (so the story goes), following one of her tours through Australia. Traditionally it's a large, thick meringue disk — hard and crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside — topped with whipped cream and berries or other fruit. Made this way, it's sliced into wedges to serve. Recently, it suddenly dawned on me: A mini strawberry Pavlova would be the perfect dessert for Passover.

Why so brilliant for Passover? Let me count the ways: 1. There's no flour, making the dessert welcome at the Passover table. 2. They star strawberries. 3. They're beautiful and impressive-looking, yet easy and foolproof to make. 4. You can make their meringue bases ahead of time — even the day before — and cut and macerate the berries in advance. All that's left to do last-minute is whip cream and assemble the Pavlovas, which is no harder than assembling strawberry shortcake. They're easy enough to manage during the craziness of a Seder. Besides being chic and delicious, Pavlovas also happen to be gluten-free — just the thing for gluten-intolerant berry lovers who are accustomed to passing up the strawberry shortcake.

When I say Pavlovas are easy to make, I'm not kidding. All you do is whip up some egg whites, beat in sugar and, if you like, a touch of lemon or orange liqueur. If you want to get fancy, add some lemon zest.

Spoon them into messy circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for less than an hour, till they're light golden and hard to the touch.

Layer them with whipped cream and strawberries (macerated in a touch of lemon liqueur or orange liqueur if you like), and there you are. If they're messy, or the meringues break, that's OK — disheveled is part of their charm. Brilliant, right? Help yourself to the recipe.


Think of these beautiful, messy desserts as strawberry shortcake that swaps out meringue cookies for the shortcake. Don't worry if they break, or are misshapen — they look even nicer when they're artfully disheveled. Serves 4.

For the Pavlova shells:

3 egg whites at room temperature

1 pinch of cream of tartar

⅞ cup sugar

½ teaspoon lemon liqueur, orange liqueur or vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

For the topping:

2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved (if small) or quartered (if large)

4 teaspoons lemon liqueur or orange liqueur, divided

1 cup whipping cream

1½ teaspoons sugar

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

2. In a medium-large bowl, use a stand mixer or hand-held mixer to beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar till it forms soft peaks. Continue beating while adding the sugar gradually, then beat until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Add the lemon or orange liqueur or vanilla, along with the lemon zest, and beat briefly to combine.

3. Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheets into 3½-inch circles, leaving at least an inch between them. You should have enough meringue for 8 or 9 circles. Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. After about 25 minutes, switch the baking sheets' places in the oven (and turn them around), so the meringues bake evenly. Bake until the meringues are light golden and hard to the touch, about 45 to 60 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave them in the oven to cool with the door slightly open.

4. While the meringues are baking, place the strawberries in a large bowl and toss them with 2 teaspoons of the lemon or orange liqueur. Set aside.

5. In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar and the remaining 2 teaspoons liqueur, and whip briefly to combine.

To assemble:

Place a meringue on each of 4 dessert plates, and top with a big dollop of whipped cream and some strawberries. Top each with another meringue, then a quarter of the remaining whipped cream; divide the strawberries among them to top. If you're left with a remaining meringue, you can crush it a bit and use to garnish the tops, consider it a bonus cookie — for now or later.

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