Pavlovas with Strawberries, Vanilla Cream, and Basil Coulis

Today’s recipe is a dessert dish from a continent / two countries I haven’t even set foot in: Australia and New Zealand. It’s on my travel bucket list, so maybe one day I’ll have the balls to take that 30-hour flight across the world! In the mean time, here’s something sweet that came from that island country in the Pacific, New Zealand – and I’m not talking about Kiwis (the people, the bird, nor the fruit)! I’m talking about something sweet called pavlovas! Here’s a brief Wiki history of the pavlova, in case you are interested.

Wouldn’t you agree that they are eye-catching? If you ever want to impress your dinner guests with an elegant dessert, this is it!

Pavlovas are made with egg whites, which require mad whipping with sugar, cornstarch, and white vinegar until they form firm peaks. This whipping frenzy results in a light, airy baked meringue with a crunchy exterior, and a cloudy, marshmallow-like interior.

One important tip for the success of your baked meringue:
Do not open the oven door at all costs! This will spur the oven burners to turn on, which could brown the meringue unnecessarily. You’re going to want to see pale or alabaster or antique-white-looking meringues. Opening the oven doors will also cause cold air to seep in, which can make the meringues fall like the Berlin Wall! So, stay faithful to this rule!

Other than that…enjoy! It seems like a daunting recipe with many components, but believe me…if I – a novice baker slash busy mom-of-three – can make these, you can, too! The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can pre-make each element separately over one or two or even three days. Baby steps, baby steps…

So, do you think you will try making these pavlovas now?

5.0 from 11 reviews
Pavlovas with Strawberries, Vanilla Cream, and Basil Coulis
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Slightly based on a recipe from Bon Appétit Desserts cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2010.
Recipe Type: Dessert
Serves: 6
  • ~~ For the Meringues ~~
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar, divided into ¾ cup and ¼ cup
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • ~~ For the Vanilla Cream ~~
  • ¾ cup chilled heavy whipping cream (at least 35%)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ~~ For the Strawberry Coulis ~~
  • ½ pint container strawberries, hulled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ~~ For the Basil Coulis ~~
  • ⅓ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup light corn syrup or light agave syrup
  • ~~ For Garnish ~~
  • 1 pint strawberries, halved, stems and leaves left on
  • ⅓ cup crushed raw pistachios
  1. To make the Meringues: Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 F degrees.
  2. Trace six 2½-inch diameter circles on parchment paper, spacing apart about 2 inches. Invert paper onto baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
  4. Gradually add ¾ cup sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  5. Mix remaining ¼ cup sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Gradually beat sugar-cornstarch mixture into meringue batter, continue beating until very stiff, about 2 minutes. Beat in vinegar for 1 minute. Total beating time should be around 10 minutes.
  6. Divide meringues equally among circles, mounding and filling the rounds completely.
  7. Bake meringues for 40 minutes. (Never open the oven door!)
  8. Turn oven off and keep meringues inside with the door closed for another 30 minutes.
  9. Open door slightly and let meringues cool in oven until almost completely dry in center, about 30 minutes longer.
  10. Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  11. To make the Vanilla Cream: Combine cream and sugar in medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use). Using electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form.
  12. To make the Strawberry Coulis: Purée strawberries and sugar in processor until smooth. Heat the purée over medium-low heat until syrup forms, about 3 minutes.
  13. To make the Basil Coulis: Blanch basil leaves in a small saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds.
  14. Drain and transfer basil to bowl over ice to stop cooking. Squeeze out excess water from basil.
  15. Purée basil with corn or agave syrup in blender. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavours to develop.
  16. Bring basil coulis to room temperature. Strain syrup through a sieve before serving.
  17. To assemble: Divide the vanilla cream and place in the center of each meringue disc.
  18. Top each with halved strawberries.
  19. Spoon strawberry coulis and basil coulis around the meringue circle and over the strawberries.
  20. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Serve immediately, or chill before serving.



  • Reply June 20, 2012

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Gorgeous pavlovas, Jen! I love strawberries with basil and the vanilla cream looks like heaven!

  • Reply June 20, 2012


    Absolutely incredible photos! Can’t wait to try this recipe Jen!

  • Reply June 20, 2012


    Wow youve done it much better than how we do it here!

  • I’m not usually attracted to pavlovas because they seem to sweet but yours just made me drool. Gorgeous!

  • Donna Hay had had me wanting to try pavlovas for a while but I haven’t had the courage to do it. Great job you did on yours–they;re beautiful and mouthwatering. I love the vanilla cream and basil coulis with them.

  • Reply June 20, 2012


    Floored! These are incredible, and will be the perfect “welcome home from training” dessert for my husband at the end of the month.



  • Reply June 20, 2012

    Phenomenal Mama

    Yes, you have sooo tempted me to make this! Just thinking about the fusion of flavors from the strawberry to basil-infused syrup…
    I have everything that’s needed to make this. Although yours will be quite a feat to duplicate.:) Your pavlovas look too gorgeous to eat.

  • Reply June 20, 2012


    Gorgeous pics, as usual :)

  • Eye-catching, definitely! I’ve never eaten anything like this, but looking at these photos, I certainly want to now!

  • We braved the 24 hours of travel to go to New Zealand last March. It was incredible!! The first time I had pavlova too, and I am in love now! Yours is gorgeous!

  • this is gorgeous Jen! I have never made pavlova, but my mom used to make use quite often, and meringues also.
    I’d be honored to be your guest at dinner if you served this.

  • Reply June 20, 2012


    Eye-catching, indeed. These look beautiful! Love the pics. Thank you!

  • I have yet to make pavlovas but need to accomplish making them. The color combination along with those great flavors is simply a winner in my book. Lovely photos!!! Pinning now….. :-)

  • Reply June 21, 2012


    Beautiful pavlovas, beautiful colors! Pinning your recipe 😉

  • Reply June 22, 2012

    Choc Chip Uru

    I feel like I could literally stare at youur fabulous work forever 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Jen, I think your pavlova look stunning! Just perfection on the plate and feast for the eyes!
    I Love your photos! Well done!
    Have a beautiful weekend!

  • i always think pavlovas look so gorgeous + these are no exception – so pretty! love the addition of strawberries + basil, too – what lovely summer flavors!

  • Okay Jen, don’t be surprised… I’ve never had Pavlovas! I think bakers probably bake at least once, and people just eat this somewhere…but I have never had it. I even learned about Pavlova this year (or was it last year) when Australian was doing Pavlova blog hop. I’m so behind! But I’ve never seen Pavlovas that are so gorgeous like this. Your creative side is all out for this beautiful dessert. You nailed every shot of this cake, just simply amazing!

  • There is nothing better for dessert than a pav with fruit and cream. It’s like eating sweet air and because it has fruit, well.. it’s good for you, right?

    When I first moved to Australia I planned to make a two later pavlova filled with chocolate whipped cream for dessert for my in-laws. My husband was so worried because “they’re really hard to make.”

    “I can read, I can make a pavlova,” I said.

    “Better get a backup just in case,” he begged.

    It was perfect. I served his mum and dad and gave him a cheese plate. :)

  • i’ve never been to New Zealand nor Australia and shhh I never had Pavlovas too. But your pictures jumped off my screen and hmmm I could almost taste it! You did a great job making Pavlovas because a person like me who never had it is craving for it now.. as in right now :)
    happy friday!

  • Reply June 23, 2012

    Jennifer (Delicieux)

    Gorgeous pavlova’s Jen! Those images are just stunning. Glad to see an Australian/New Zealand classic on your blog.

  • I’m so chuffed that you made something from here (or NZ 😉 depending on who you ask!). I adore pavlova and I love that you can use any sort of fruit in them! 😀

  • Gorgeous! Can’t wait to give this a go. Never tried a sweet basil sauce before- very intriguing.

  • Reply June 23, 2012

    Hotly Spiced

    Well, I was born in NZ and now live in Australia so I have grown up with this wonderful and most delicious dessert and yes, I do make it often. Your pavlovas look amazing and I love the look of the basil coulis – that’s something I haven’t tried before.

  • Reply June 24, 2012


    but I do not like meringue Pavlova always looks divine :)))

  • Reply June 24, 2012


    Basil coulis?! Genius!! I think the Daring Bakers made paplovas a few years ago, but I skipped that challenge due to my fear of making things that call fall apart easily. (They hit too close to home.) 😀 Yours are perfect! And they’re so gorgeous, I may have to give paplovas a go sometime soon.

  • Stunning photos! I have only had pavlovas in a restaurant…yours sound terrific.

  • Reply June 24, 2012


    You had me at basil coulis. Seriously. :) These look beyond delicious, Jen. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply June 24, 2012


    Absolutely gorgeous. As an Aussie I’ve made many pavs, but never one quite this pretty! Nicely done!

  • Reply June 25, 2012


    Wow, what a beautiful dessert to behold! I know eating them was even better. I made pavlova’s last year and it was a fun dessert to make and your right they are quite impressive. I love the basil coulis you added here, it goes well with cream and strawberries!

  • From someone who’s eaten their fareshare of ‘pavs’ here in Melbourne, by golly,. you have have done a freakin oisome job! Incredible photos too :)

  • Reply June 26, 2012


    Pavlovas are always so intimidating to me! Was this your first attempt? If so, great job. They are stunning. I’m feeling inspired to give it a shot…

  • Reply June 26, 2012


    Not that into pavlovas but if it’s served to me like this, I will devour it!
    In love with your photos as usual!

  • Reply June 26, 2012

    Amy (Savory Moments)

    Wow – these are absolutely beautiful! Stunning, in fact. I bet they are delicious, too. Strawberry and basil are a lovely combination.

  • Reply June 27, 2012


    Wow..these look fantastic. Amazing photographs. Barbara Fairchild has been my fav author. I have her book too and love this recipe. YOur Pavlovas are stunning…loving it:)

  • Reply June 28, 2012


    We have the reverse bucket list – I have been to Australia, where I first learned of pavlovas (and ate one every night, weighing more when I returned home), but it has long been on my list to make here at home! Your pavlovas are beautiful, simply beautiful. I swear, you have a magic touch!

  • Reply July 6, 2012


    These are just gorgeous! I have always wanted to try a Pavlova.. and this one is so elegant looking I just want to dive in. I may have to have a dinner party just for an excuse to make these! I’m so impressed. Thank you for sharing this one. :)

  • Reply July 7, 2012

    Magic of Spice

    What extraordinary pavlovas…and basil coulis, oh my! Just a gorgeous dessert!

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  • Reply July 23, 2012


    This pavlova looks fantastic and it looks like lots of fun eating it! 😉

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  • Reply April 9, 2013


    I’ve never had pavlova, but I can’t stop staring at your photos and the wonderful combination of cream, red and green. Heavenly!

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  • This is an absolutely STUNNING dessert! So very impressive. Have to make this some day soon! :)

  • Reply August 8, 2013


    What beautiful photos and a lovely rendition of a Pavlova. I am a New Zealander, so eat this a great deal, yours looks like a variation worth adding to the repertoire… :-)

  • Reply May 10, 2014


    Being Australian I have eaten and cooked many pavlovas but this one is my favourite!

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  • Reply June 5, 2015


    WOW! We made this for my birthday dessert and everyone loved it! Thanks so much!

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