Pavlova Cake With Coconut Cream and Berries (Meringue Cake)

5 from 15 votes
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A sweet and creamy Pavlova cake served with coconut whipped cream, strawberry whirl sauce, and berries – a deliciously sweet summery meringue cake, perfect for special occasions

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

I’m not sure about you, but when Summer comes around, I always crave lots of fruit, but also sweet treats. If I’m not enjoying a Fruit Popsicle, or Vegan no-bake layered Cherry Cheesecake, then this ‘Eton mess’ strawberry Pavlova cake with coconut cream, strawberry sauce, and berries is definitely at the top of my list. Whether you want to impress guests on a special occasion or just wow the family, this dish is sure to delight all those that try it!

Although this dessert is heavy with dairy, I’ve decided to omit the thick whipping cream, in place for a lighter coconut whipped cream, which adds a lovely summery lightness to this otherwise super-sweet treat. Plus, the crisp outer shell and soft, chewy inner centers of the Pavlova dessert are one of my utmost guilty pleasures.

Although I’ve purposely made these Pavlova layers on the thinner side, to make a Pavlova cake, so for that reason, I consider this a meringue cake/Pavlova cake. However, check the Notes below for ways to make a thicker Pavlova cake or thinner meringue cake.

What Is Pavlova?

Pavlova is a dessert named after a famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. There are lots of disputes over the origins of the dish, whether it’s from Australia, New Zealand, or even founded earlier in Austria. However, it’s said to be named after the light, fluffy texture of her ballerina’s tutu and dance.

While very similar to a meringue, in that it is an egg white and sugar-based dessert, whipped up into a light, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth dessert, there is a difference between the two. Unlike traditional meringue, which is hard and dry throughout, Pavlova is meant to have a hard outer shell, with a soft marshmallow-like interior.

It is something that can be a bit tricky to achieve, though, and makes for the perfect dessert to cover with whipped cream and fruit to help hide any ‘flaws.’

Top Tips For Perfect Pavlova (Troubleshooting Pavlova and Meringue)

Okay, I may be a bit of a novice here myself when it comes to Pavlova dessert, but there are some tips, tricks, and general notes that I’ve picked up along the way.

  • Make sure not to over whisk the egg whites, as this can lead to delated, cracked, and even ‘weeping’ Pavlovas. The mixture needs to look thick and glossy, with the sugar fully dissolved. Over beaten eggs will begin to break down and become more grainy and watery.
  • All of your equipment and utensils need to be perfectly dry before attempting this Pavlova dessert. Moisture will affect the success of the Pavlova. The same goes for any fats and egg yolks – make sure the egg whites are pure – or else this just won’t whip properly.
  • Add the sugar to the egg whites slowly, at a slow/medium speed (4-5 on a stand mixer). One tablespoon at a time is more than enough for the slow dissolve that makes for perfectly integrated sugar/egg white mixture.
  • Pavlova and humidity don’t mix. Avoid making Pavlovas on very humid days as it can lead to leaking/weeping and collapsed Pavlovas. Also, the Pavlovas will continue to soak up liquid content once baed, so humidity will make them spoil and go ‘soggy’ faster.
  • Make sure that the Pavlovas cool down gradually. It’s best to leave them in the oven until they are completely cooled (around 6 hours) and don’t be tempted to open the oven during the bake time. Any sudden changes in temperature can lead to cracked, collapsed shells and less of the gooey interior.
  • The key to making meringue and Pavlova is all about patience. Use low/medium whisking speeds (4-5 on a stand mixer out of 10) for a more stable Pavlova. Also, the cooking time needs to be low temperature for a long time (rather than higher temp for a shorter time) to get the perfectly crispy shell and soft, marshmallowy center.

Bonus Note: the baking time can vary depending on your oven and the altitude of where you live. If you are having issues with a soft center based on my instructions, then you can make two adjustments. Either increase the temperature by 10C/50F OR increase the baking time at the lower temperature.

A Few Notes On The Meringue Ingredients

  • Sugar – caster sugar is best and will take the least amount of time to whip into the egg white mixture. You can also pulse granulated sugar into a finer sugar. However, this will still take longer. I actually used granulated sugar for this recipe originally (as is pictured) – but now I always use caster sugar.
  • Egg Whites – make sure to use room temperature eggs, as cold ones won’t whip as easily.
  • White Wine Vinegar – an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice helps to stabilize the egg mixture as it foams. You could also use half the amount of cream of tartar.
  • Vanilla 
  • Optional: Cornstarch/Cornflour – is used to help the center retain its melt-in-the-mouth marshmallowy center. It also helps to stabilize the egg whites during baking and prevent weeping – especially if you live in more humid climates.
  • Optional: 1 tbsp freeze-dried strawberry or raspberry powder – That you can swirl into the meringue for a lovely pink swirl pattern.

How To Make Pavlova Cake

Read the recipe card below for the full ingredient quantities and notes.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

The Method:

Start by separating the egg whites from the egg yolk (you can use the egg yolks for this Caramel Ice Cream). Preheat the oven to 275ºF/140°C.

To make the meringue beat the egg whites at a medium speed in a stand mixer (speed 4-5), or the lower speed setting with a hand mixer.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

Do this until the eggs reach the soft peak stage and then it’s time to add in the sugar.

Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, leaving 20-30 seconds between each spoonful to allow it to almost fully dissolve. This can take 10-15 minutes – just make sure to keep the speed consistent. It’s done when stiff peaks form, with the mixture looking thick and glossy, and the sugar fully dissolved (usually 10-12 minutes).

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

You can check if the sugar is fully dissolved by spooning a little out of the bowl and feeling (by hand) for any sugar granules. If there are none, then the meringue is ready. If you use caster sugar, this will take significantly less time than granulated sugar.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

Lastly, add the vinegar to the mixer and give a final 30 seconds or so of mixing – be careful not to over-whip. You could also carefully fold this into the mixture, careful not to knock out too much air.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

If wanting to include cornstarch, then simply combine it with the vinegar into a slurry before mixing in. This is also the point where you would add the freeze-dried berry powder if preferred.

Depending on how thick you want the meringue cake layers to be, prepare two or three baking sheets with parchment paper. For consistent sizing on the layers, use a plate to trace the shape on the underside of the parchment paper.

Divide the mixture between the different baking sheets, spooning the meringue into the center of the circle, and then use a spatula to spread it evenly around the circle.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

You’ll need to bake them in the oven till crisp on the outside, no longer sticking to the parchment paper, and with no shine. You’ve gone too far if the meringue becomes browned. Depending on how thick you made your layers and your oven, this can take between 70-120 minutes. If I’m making three layers, then It usually takes me around 70 minutes; for two layers, it’s closer to 90 minutes.

It’s best not to open the oven and cause any sudden changes in temperature to the meringue. However, if you have to check- then quickly open the oven and just see if you can lift the Pavlova from the baking sheet without it sticking. If not, then it needs slightly longer.

Once ready, turn off the oven and leave to cool completely in the oven (or at least two hours). This will help to further stabilize the meringues, stopping them from cracking.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

Just before serving, whip all the coconut cream ingredients together.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

Stack the Pavlova cake layers, each with some coconut cream, optional strawberry sauce, and mixed berries. Read the notes below for more flavor and serving options.

Eton mess meringue pavlova cake with berries and coconut cream

Other Sweet Delights

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe rating and any feedback, and feel free to tag me in your recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie.

This post was originally posted in August 2018 but has been updated with new text and imagery. The recipe, though, remains the same. 

Eton Mess meringue cake with berries

5 from 15 votes
By: Samira
A sweet and creamy Pavlova cake served with coconut whipped cream, strawberry whirl sauce, and berries – a deliciously sweet summery meringue cake, perfect for special occasions
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 6

Ingredients 
 

For the Meringue:

  • 6 egg whites I used Clarence Court Old Cotswold Legbar
  • 1 ½ Cups caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar or 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 vanilla pod optional
  • 1 tbsp freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries optional – for a strawberry Pavlova swirl
  • 1 tbsp cornflour optional – mix into a slurry with the vinegar before adding to the egg white mixture

Optional Strawberry Swirl Sauce:

  • 2 Cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp corn-starch
  • 4 tbsp water

For the Coconut Cream Frosting: (alternatively whip up some double cream with vanilla)

Instructions 

  • Separate the egg whites from the egg yolk (you can use the egg yolks for this Caramel Ice Cream). Preheat the oven to 275ºF/140°C.
  • To make the meringue beat the egg whites at a medium speed in a stand mixer (speed 4-5), or the lower speed setting with a hand mixer. Do this until the eggs reach soft peak stage and then it's time to add in the sugar.
  • Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, leaving 20-30 seconds between each spoonful to allow it to almost fully dissolve. This can take 10-15 minutes – just make sure to keep the speed consistent. It's done when stiff peaks form, with the mixture looking thick and glossy, and the sugar fully dissolved (usually 10-12 minutes).*
  • Lastly, add the vinegar to the mixer and give a final 30 seconds or so of mixing – be careful not to overwhip. You could also carefully fold this into the mixture, careful not to knock out too much air.**
  • Depending on how thick you want the meringue cake layers to be, prepare two or three baking sheets with parchment paper. For consistent sizing on the layers, use a plate to trace the shape on the underside of the parchment paper.
  • Divide the mixture between the different baking sheets, spooning the meringue into the center of the circle, and then using a spatula to spread it evenly around the circle.
  • You’ll need to bake them in the oven till crisp on the outside, no longer sticking to the parchment paper, and with no shine. You’ve gone too far if the meringue becomes browned. Depending on how thick you made your layers, and your oven, this can take between 70-120 minutes. If I’m making three layers then It usually takes me around 70 minutes, for two layers it’s closer to 90 minutes.
  • It's best not to open the oven and cause any sudden changes in temperature to the meringue. However, if you have to check- then quickly open the oven and just see if you can lift the Pavlova from the baking sheet without it sticking. If not, then it needs slightly longer.
  • Once ready, turn off the oven and leave to cool completely in the oven (for at least two hours). This will help to further stabilize the meringues, stopping them from cracking.
  • Just before serving, whip all the coconut cream ingredients together.
  • Stack the Pavlova cake layers each with some coconut cream, optional strawberry sauce, and mixed berries. Read the notes below for more flavor and serving options.

How To Store:

  • You can make the Pavlova/meringue pieces up to two days in advance and keep in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge). Any longer and it will start to go mushy/soggy, due to the soft center. I wouldn't recommend freezing the Pavlova either, as it will be much softer, with clear textural change when thawing.

Notes

*You can check if the sugar is fully dissolved by spooning a little out of the bowl and feeling (by-hand) for any sugar granules. If there are none, then the meringue is ready. If you use caster sugar this will take significantly less time than granulated sugar.
** If wanting to include cornstarch, then simply combine with the vinegar into a slurry before mixing in. This is also the point where you would add the freeze-dried berry powder, if preferred.
Note: Depending on how thick you want your Meringue layers to be, you may want to use up to 8 eggs. (if, after whipping the first six egg whites, you decide that you would like extra, then set aside mix in a bowl and whip up the other two separately then combine before adding in the sugar to the full mix).
To Make The Strawberry sauce: Bring all of the ingredients (except the cornflour and lemon juice) to a boil in a small saucepan and then reduce to a simmer. Create a slurry with the cornflour and lemon juice and add to the pan then stir continuously as the sauce thickens. Remove from heat after 2-3 minutes.

How To Serve:

I love to serve this meringue cake as an ‘Eton mess cake’ with some whipped coconut cream, optional strawberry sauce, and berries.
  • However, feel free to use your favorite fruits – such as kiwi, passionfruit, mango, pineapple, etc. 
  • You can also omit the strawberry sauce and opt drizzling lemon curd or another fruit curd.
  • For a banoffee version, omit the berries in place of some sliced bananas and caramel/toffee sauce (or even some coconut condensed milk). 
  • For a ‘Turkish’ delight version – Add rose water or rose syrup into the whipped coconut cream. Then top with pistachios, pomegranate, rose petals, and optionally some dark chocolate
  • For a tangy topping, you can use half yogurt and half cream instead of coconut whipped cream. 
You can also use all of the elements of this to serve as an Eton mess or ambrosia salad.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: European
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 2 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving, Calories: 409kcal, Carbohydrates: 100g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 52mg, Potassium: 122mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 96g, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    When you say “coconut cream”, do you mean cream of coconut like the kind you use in making pina coladas? Or do you mean the canned “coconut milk”? Cause there’s a huge difference between the cream of coconut and coconut milk

    1. Hi Dee,
      Yes, I meant cream of coconut. I guess it all depends on where you live, generally, you can find coconut cream as well as coconut milk in cans. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Aimee.
      The fruit was frozen before I decorated the cake. Then, it gets this lovely frosted effect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long. 🙂

  2. Oh my god! I can’t believe i didn’t check ur blog before! I like how you add vinegar, i always had trouble with the smell of meringue! I will have to use vinegar from now on!