The Simple Tip That Will Help Prevent Cracked Pavlovas

Meringues are a staple in the baking world, but they're not exactly easy to master. Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert that's sweet and light and is often topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. The dessert originates in the Southern Hemisphere, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming it as their own. The name, on the other hand, is an ode to Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Pavlova is a versatile dessert that can be accompanied by a variety of flavors, from bright citrus to rich vanilla. Like most merengues, getting the texture just right isn't always easy. While some cracking is normal and expected, meringue can sometimes split with crevices that look more like faults on a tectonic plate, and that's not ideal.

The most common reason for meringues to crack is because of sudden and drastic temperature changes, like when they're moved from a hot oven to a much cooler kitchen. The meringue base for Pavlova is baked at a lower temperature than many baked goods, but the temperature change when they're removed from the oven is still drastic enough to cause unwanted cracks. One of the best ways to avoid major cracking is to turn off the oven just before the meringues are cooked all the way through and let them cool slowly in the oven.

Tips for tasty Pavlova

Pavlova is a delicious and beautiful dessert, and knowing a few tips for the meringue and toppings will help you create a restaurant-worthy dish. The meringue base for Pavlova is baked in the oven at a fairly low temperature, and, as with any meringue, it's important to account for humidity and altitude when baking. The ideal texture for the meringue base is a crisp and airy outside layer and a dense and chewy inside. That low and slow bake helps to achieve this.

Pavlova is traditionally topped with Chantilly or whipped cream and fresh fruit, but the meringue base is perfect for getting creative. Pastry cream and other custards work well as a filling, and toppings can extend beyond fresh fruit, though a nice, juicy bite of fruit is always a welcome contrast to the toasty meringue. If you're looking for richer flavors, try a drizzle of dark chocolate or caramel, or top it off with candied nuts for some added sweetness.