This dreamy dessert, which was named in honor of a famous Russian ballerina, is about the closest you will ever get to eating a cloud. The meringue base can be made in advance. To serve it, drizzle the strawberries with a little balsamic vinegar and vanilla – a combination that brings out the fullest essential flavor of the fruit – whip some cream and arrange it all on a plate. It’s magnificent.


Recipe by Anna BembryCourse: DessertDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




Resting time



This dreamy dessert is about the closest you will ever get to eating a cloud.


  • For the meringue
  • 5 egg whites

  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

  • 1 teaspoon high-quality
    vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons cold water

  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white wine, cider, or distilled)

  • For the whipped cream
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • A tablespoon or two of confectioners’ sugar

  • 1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract

  • For the topping
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered

  • 1/2 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon high-quality balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar


  • To prepare the meringue: preheat oven to 275F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace a 6-inch circle on the paper using a cake pan or a bowl as a guide. Flip the parchment over so the pencil marking is facing down (this ensures that the pencil won’t transfer to the meringue). In a large, clean bowl, combine egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Begin beating at low speed, slowly increasing to medium-high, until floppy, satiny peaks begin to form, about 3 minutes. Then turn down your mixer to medium-low speed and drizzle in the water. Gradually beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time. This may take a minute or so. Turn the speed to high and whip until very stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in cornstarch, vanilla and vinegar, and fold in gently.
  • Mound the egg foam onto parchment within circle. Using a metal spatula, shape the mound into a disk, flattening the top, then swipe grooves in the foam, creating curls at the top. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the pavlova turns a very pale tan color. Turn off heat (don’t open the door), and allow meringue to cool completely in oven, at least 3 hours.
  • To prepare the topping: in a mixing bowl, combine strawberries, vanilla, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  • To serve, carefully peel off parchment and place meringue on a platter or cake stand. Gently crack the top with the back of a soup spoon to make a shallow nest for the whipped cream and berries. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract, and whip until cream is thick enough to hold peaks, then spoon it over meringue. Cover cream with strawberries, allowing a small amount of their liquid to dribble onto cream. Serve immediately.

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