Spiced Pavlova with Roasted Pears and Grapes

I have always been a big fan of meringue, whether it’s a creamy Italian meringue atop a pie or a cake, a crunchy meringue cookie, or—perhaps the most stunning showstopper dessert ever—a pavlova. Gently baked until crisp on the outside and fluffy-moist on the inside, a pavlova offers lovely textures, not to mention that sweet, marshmallow-like flavor. I often think of it for spring or summer occasions, opting to top it with berries and cream. But pavlova also lends itself beautifully to fall fruit and warm spices, making it a fantastic (and surprising) addition to the holiday table.In this recipe, I add ground cardamom to the egg whites for deep fragrance and warm, sweet notes. I love this spice—as opposed to more traditional fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice—because it’s brighter and more aromatic. It simply makes this pavlova feel more special. Grapes, pears, and pomegranate arils are the fall fruit trifecta for the topping, each offering its own shade of muted burgundy that feels just right for this time of year.If you’ve never made a pavlova, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is. It doesn’t require any special culinary skill, but it does require time—about 4 1/2 hours in the oven, minimum. You can get a little bit of a head start if you need: Bake the pavlova earlier in the day, and hold it at room temperature for a few hours in an airtight environment (wrap it in plastic wrap or, if you have a container large enough, in an airtight container). Make the whipped cream topping earlier in the day, too, and hold it in the fridge. And roast the fruit a few hours ahead and keep it at room temperature. Then assemble your gorgeous creation just before serving.One quick tip as you’re working with the egg whites. This was something I learned from a former colleague at Cooking Light, Deb Wise (aka the Dessert Goddess). She was beating egg whites one day in the test kitchen, and I commented that they were amazingly voluminous. She revealed why: You must be patient and take your time when beating the egg whites. Start at medium speed, work your way up to medium-high, and finally end at high. If you go in right away at high speed, your egg whites will not reach their full volume potential. So if you’re like me, tamp down your desire to speed things up—it won’t serve you well in the long run.

Spiced Pavlova with Roasted Pears and Grapes
Photo: Alison Miksch
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs
12 serves


  • 1 2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 3 cups seedless red grapes

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 2 rosemary sprigs

  • 2 (8-ounce) firm red-skinned pears (such as Starkrimson), cored and cut into 12 wedges each

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils

  • Fresh rosemary leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together 1 2/3 cups sugar, cornstarch, and cardamom in a medium bowl. Place egg whites, vinegar, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Beating at medium-high speed, gradually add sugar mixture. Increase speed to high, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes.

  2. Spoon meringue onto prepared baking sheet, and spread into a 16- x 11-inch rectangle. Bake in preheated oven until set and firm, about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Turn off oven, and let pavlova stand in oven until completely cool, about 2 hours. Remove pavlova from oven.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine grapes, oil, and rosemary sprigs on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and stir. Add pear wedges to pan; stir gently to combine. Bake until pears are tender, about 12 minutes, stirring gently after 8 minutes. Let fruit cool until barely warm or to room temperature.

  4. Combine cream and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Beat with a handheld mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold in crème fraîche. Spoon whipped cream mixture over pavlova. Top with grape mixture, and sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

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