Pavlova is a baked meringue dessert that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The toppings and flavor combinations are endless! Try this homemade pavlova served with chocolate ganache, soft whipped cream, and fresh raspberries for a classic, elegant dessert.

Pavlova topped with chocolate ganache, cream and fresh raspberries on a cake stand

Pavlova Overview

A pavlova is a large baked meringue shell that is typically topped with soft whipped cream and some kind of sauce (typically a fresh berry sauce or chocolate ganache). The shell is baked at a low temperature so the outside of the shell sets and gets crisp while the center stays soft and marshmallowy.

Traditional pavlovas are baked somewhat thin however, I really love the look of a tall pavlova. Zoë of Zoë Bakes popularized this style and I think it looks so classy! 

Why this pavlova is so impressive

  • How beautiful is this dessert? The gorgeous shell topped with colorful fresh fruit will make such an impact on your dessert table.
  • This dessert comes with an array of different textures. The fluffy texture of the marshmallow center is perfectly paired with the crispy exterior, sweet fruit, and silky cream.
  • Pavlovas are gluten free! Meringue is naturally gluten free which makes this dessert perfect for serving a crowd with different dietary requirements.
  • The beauty and flavors of this dessert make for a delightful Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthday, or other holiday treat.
Pavlova topped with chocolate ganache, cream and fresh raspberries with a large slice taken out

Here’s what you need to make a pavlova

A French meringue shell is the base of this pavlova. The other components like ganache and fruit can be substituted for any flavor you’d like.

Egg Whites: The egg whites in meringue serve two main purposes. They are the liquid in which the sugar dissolves into and they are the protein structure for creating the web that will trap air bubbles to create volume.

Granulated Sugar: Sugar stabilizes the protein web that traps the air (and sweetens the mixture). The earlier in the process the sugar is added, the more stable the meringue. 

Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an acidic ingredient that helps to unstick the egg white proteins from each other which creates a fluffy meringue. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute with lemon juice or white vinegar.

Salt and Vanilla: Both salt and vanilla are used for flavor. The salt also offsets the sweetness.

Cornstarch: Cornstarch helps soak up some of the moisture in the meringue so the outside crisps in the oven. We only use a small amount of cornstarch in this recipe which allows the center of the meringue to stay soft like a marshmallow.

Flavor Ideas

Here is a list of components that would be delicious topped over a meringue base shell. Mix and match 2-3 components for a customizable flavor that’s perfect for you!

  • Chocolate ganache
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh berries like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or pomegranates
  • Tropical fresh fruits like passionfruit, kiwi, pineapple, or mango
  • Caramel sauce
  • Fruit jams or sauces
Pavlova topped with chocolate ganache, cream and fresh raspberries on a cake stand

How to Make a Perfect Pavlova

The style of meringue traditionally used for large baked shells is French meringue. This style makes a shell that melts in your mouth. It is also the easiest style to make! 

Step 1: Whip the Egg Whites to Soft Peaks

Start with only the egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt in the mixing bowl. Whip at medium speed until the egg whites start to hold some air and form soft peaks. It is important to do this without the sugar at first so that the foam will be as stable as possible. 

Step 2: Gradually Add the Sugar

Once the egg whites are holding soft peaks, very gradually start adding the sugar while continuing to whip on medium speed. Add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting for a few seconds between each addition to add the next.

Once all of the sugar has been added, continue whipping the meringue to stiff peaks. It should stand up tall on the whisk.

Step 3: Shape the Meringue Shell & Bake

Pile the meringue onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper into a round shape. Then use a rubber spatula to make a smooth dome. 

Hold an offset spatula vertically and hold and pull it up all around the sides of the meringue creating a tall shell. Create a small well in the center of the top for your fillings. 

Once the shell is shaped, bake it at a low temperature until it is set and crisp. 

Step 4: Top Your Shell

I topped my pavlova with a soft whipped cream and a rich chocolate ganache. I also added fresh raspberries for a pop of tartness and mint leaves for color. Get creative and use your favorite toppings!

Decorating the pavlova with chocolate ganache, cream and fresh raspberries


Why do you add vinegar or cream of tartar to meringue?

Acidic ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar help to stabilize the meringue so that it is less prone to weeping which can cause sogginess.

Why did my pavlova shell crack?

Meringue shells can sometimes crack if they cool too quickly. It is very common and not indicative of a bad or ruined pavlova. The texture and flavor will still be great and it will look beautiful.

Can I make mini pavlovas?

Yes! Prepare the recipe as instructed, then transfer the meringue into a piping bag. Pipe 6-8 small circular mounds of meringue onto the baking sheet. Leave an area in the middle free of meringue for the toppings. Instead of using a piping bag, you can simply use a spoon to make everyone their own personal mini pavlova.

Storage & Make-ahead instructions

How to Store Pavlova: Pavlova is best enjoyed right after it is garnished with toppings. If there are any leftovers, the entire pavlova can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a day or two but it will start to become soggy and weepy the longer it sits in the refrigerator.

How to Make-Ahead Pavlova: Bake the meringue shell and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature. Make the chocolate ganache and refrigerate. I don’t recommend making the whipped cream in advance unless you stabilize it with gelatin.

When ready to serve, gently microwave the ganache at half power for 15-30 seconds until it is stirrable but not completely liquid or hot. Top the meringue shell with ganache, fruit, and freshly made whipped cream.


If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like to try another delicious meringue-based dessert.

Pavlova topped with chocolate ganache, cream and fresh raspberries on a cake stand
Yield: 6-8 Servings

Pavlova with Chocolate and Raspberry

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes

Pavlova is a baked meringue dessert that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. This Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova takes this elegant dessert to a new level with meringue, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries!


For the Pavlova Shell

  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

For the Ganache

  • 58 grams (¼ cup, 60 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 50 grams (⅓ cup, 2 ounces) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • pinch of salt

For the Whipped Cream

  • 235 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) heavy cream, very cold
  • 15 grams (2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


For the Pavlova

  1. Position the oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites (4 large), cream of tartar (¼ teaspoon), salt (one pinch), and vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) on medium speed until you have soft peaks.
  3. Continue mixing on medium speed and begin adding the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time (total of 200 grams/ 1 cup), waiting about 15 seconds before the next addition. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the meringue is holding stiff peaks.
  4. Lightly spoon the cornstarch (1 ½ teaspoons) over the top of the meringue and fold it in with a rubber spatula.
  5. Gently pile the meringue onto the parchment paper in one large mound. Use an offset spatula to smooth over the meringue into an ant hill shape making an indent in the center to hold the toppings. It does not need to be perfect, some swirling looks quite nice.
  6. Using your offset spatula, gently swipe from the bottom up around all sides of the meringue. This will give your shell some height.
  7. Bake for 90 minutes. The outside should feel dry and firm but the inside will be soft and moist. Turn the oven off, leave the oven door shut, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven for at least 2 hours. It can also stay in the oven for longer up to overnight until you are ready to assemble.

For the ganache

  1. Heat the heavy cream (58 grams/ ¼ cup) in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering and almost boiling. Meanwhile, put the chocolate chips (50 grams/ ⅓ cup) in a mixing bowl.
  2. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it sit for about 2 minutes.
  3. Put your whisk into the center of the bowl and begin whisking from the center working your way out until the ganache becomes smooth.
  4. Add the salt (one pinch) and whisk in.

For the Whipped Cream

  1. Combine the cold heavy cream (235 grams/ 1 cup), powdered sugar (15 grams/ 2 tablespoons), vanilla extract (½ teaspoon), salt (one pinch) into a bowl. Whisk gently until combined.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, turn the mixer on to full speed and whip the cream to medium to stiff peaks. I like to go a little softer than stiff peaks as it pairs nicely with the meringue if it's a little softer.


  1. Just before serving gently place the baked meringue on a serving plate. Top with whipped cream, ganache, fresh raspberries and mint.

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