This extravagant Cherry Pavlova Tree is loaded with soft folds of whipped cream, cherry sauce, and topped with a beautiful tree star. The finished product resembles a Christmas tree making this the perfect dessert for your Christmas celebrations.
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year. From Christmas cookies and cakes to decorations and presents, Christmas is my time to shine. If you’ve been following The Seaside Baker for a while, you’ll know how much we love making Christmas desserts. From our Red Velvet Christmas Cake, Chalkboard Christmas Cookies, Ombre Gingerbread Christmas Trees, and now our Cherry Pavlova Tree, we’ve got a little bit of everything.
Why We Love This Cherry Pavlova Tree
Christmas dessert recipes thrill me to no end, but I truly love this pavlova recipe, and I’m sure you will too. Here’s why we love this extravagant dessert:
- It’s a decadent dessert. This cherry pavlova has a crisp crust, is soft and light on the inside, and packed with delicious cherry sauce and whipped cream. Its light, fresh, and sweet with the most delicious center.
- Perfect for Christmas. Assembled to resemble a Christmas tree with a star on top, this dessert really adds to the festivities. Everyone gets a kick out of eating it.
- Completely homemade. From the pavlova to the cherry sauce and whipped cream, everything is made from scratch for a truly irresistible treat.
Cherry Pavlova Ingredients/Shopping List
- Vinegar- I use white wine vinegar.
- Almond extract
- Red & Green sanding sugar- Also known as super fine sprinkles.
- Chopped cherries- You can use any berry you like.
- Brown sugar
- Lime juice
- Heavy cream
Substitutions and Additions
- Almond extract- You can leave the almond extract out completely if you choose. However, it will slightly alter the flavor. You can substitute vanilla extract here.
- Cherries- Instead of using cherries, you can use any berry of fruit you would like such as raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries.
- Heavy cream- If you don’t have heavy cream, you can make it with whole milk and butter. To make 1 cup of heavy cream, mix ⅔ cup of whole milk with ⅓ cup of melted butter.
- Vinegar- I use white wine vinegar for this recipe, but apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice can be substituted.
Recommended Tools to Make A Cherry Pavlova Tree
- Stand mixer- You can use a hand mixer or just a fork with a little elbow grease.
- Mixing bowls
- 3 baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Sharpie marker
- Cake stand or serving platter
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Piping bag with star tip
- Dowel- For the star on top
How to Make A Cherry Pavlova Tree
When making a Cherry Pavlova Tree, it’s important to follow the steps exactly so that it comes out just right. Follow the steps below for a Christmas delight:
- Prep- First, preheat the oven to 225℉. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Then, use a sharpie marker to make round outlines that are 8 ½ -9”, 6’, 5-5 ½ ’’, 4”, 3 ½”, and 2” in diameter. Leave 1 ½ “ space between each circle for swelling and rising. Leave 4” of space on one paper for the star.
- Whisk egg whites- Next, begin making the meringue by placing all your egg whites into a bowl. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute or until small bubbles have formed.
- Add the sugar- With the mixer still going, slowly stream in the sugar and continue whisking for 1 minute or until the microfoam has increased.
- Add vinegar and salt- Next, add the vinegar and salt to the meringue and whisk for 3-5 minutes or until a peak forms. The peak should not fall back into itself.
- Add additional ingredients- Finally, add cornstarch, vanilla, and almond extract to the bowl and whisk it for another 2-3 minutes. The meringue should be stiff and the peaks should hold themselves up.
- Fill a piping bag- Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip ¾ of the way full with the meringue. Then, pipe a small amount under each corner of the parchment paper to help it stick to the baking sheet. Press it down.
- Divide the meringue- Divide your remaining meringue between each of the circle outlines. Leave ⅓ to ½ cups of meringue for the star. Spread the meringue around the circles leaving about ¼ “ of edging visible for piping the ruffles.
Pro Tip: The meringue does not have to be completely flat but do try to make the layers as smooth as possible so that they stack well in the end.
- Pipe a ruffled edge-Next, using your filled piping bag, pipe a ruffled edge around as many layers of the meringue as you can. Make sure the ruffle does not touch the meringue circle so that it is attached.
- Pipe the star- Start by piping 5 lines in the shape of a star. Pipe a small connecting line from one leg of the star to the adjacent leg. Make sure that it is as close to the center as possible so it fills the star out. Then, pipe a swirl in the center to cover any funny lines from shaping the star.
- Put in the dowel- Once you’ve piped out the star, push a cake pop stick or a small dowel into the bottom of the star. It should go at least halfway into the star, but not out the top.
- Sprinkle star- As an option, you can sprinkle the red and green sanding sugar over the start to add depth and color.
- Bake the pavlova- Layer all of your baking sheets into the oven. Bake it for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Pro Tip: Contrary to other baked goods that do not bake evenly when crowded into the oven, meringues are slowly baked and dried so feel free to layer the pans in on multiple racks.
- Let them cool and dry- After you have baked the meringues, turn the oven off. Then, leave them in the oven with the door closed for 3 hours to finish drying.
- Make the cherry sauce- While the meringues dry, place all of your cherry sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place the pan over low heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Once it is cooked, use an immersion blender to blend the cherry chunks. Pour into a heatproof bowl to cool at room temperature.
- Make the whipped cream-Add all of your whipped cream ingredients to a mixing bowl. Using your stand mixer, whip the ingredients together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until the whipped cream is thick and fluffy.
How to Assemble the Cherry Pavlova Tree
Once the meringues have dried out, carefully lift them from the parchment paper and follow the assembly steps below.
- First layer-Place the largest meringue layer onto a cake stand or serving platter. Using a spoon, plop ¾ of a cup of whipped cream into the center of the layer. Using a rubber spatula, spread the whipped cream out to the edges, but do not cover the ruffle. Then, spoon several tablespoons of the cherry sauce over the whipped cream.
- Second layer- Next, grab the second largest meringue layer and put it on top of the first layer. Using a spoon, plop ⅓ to ½ cup of whipped cream onto the center. Spread it out as you did the first layer. Then, top it with several tablespoons of cherry sauce.
- Third layer- Find the 3rd largest meringue and place that on top of the second layer. Add ¼ cup of whipped cream to this layer and spread it out to the edges. Then, top it with more cherry sauce.
- Add a cake pop stick or dowel rod- After your third layer, carefully press a cake pop stick or dowel rod through the center of the layers to keep them centered.
- Continue the layers- Continue adding the layers, using less and less whipped cream and cherry sauce for each layer.
- Top with the star- Once the top layer is topped with whipped cream and cherry sauce, very carefully press the star into the top using the dowel to stand it up.
- Finishing touches- You have now made a cherry pavlova tree. For added decoration, place 2’ long pieces of rosemary into the whipped cream layers, and add some mini pine cones, and then dust the whole tree with powdered sugar.
Serve and Enjoy!
For added decoration, place 2” long pieces of rosemary or fresh pine (if available, but make sure to remove before eating) into the whipped cream layers, add on mini pine cones then dust the entire tree with powdered sugar.
Tips for Making A Cherry Pavlova Tree
- Wash your mixing bowl well. Before adding egg whites to your mixing bowl, make sure the bowl is clean and dry. If you feel the bowl has an oily texture, wash it thoroughly or wash it down with a paper towel and some white vinegar.
- Keep mixer speed. Be sure to maintain the mixer speed when you are making the meringue. If you increase the speed, it will add too much air too quickly. Adding too much air too quickly can create a faulty meringue that can deflate when baking.
- Don’t over whip the whipped cream. If you over whip the whipped cream, it will separate. Then, you will have to start over.
- Stream the sugar. If you are having difficulty getting a stiff whipped cream, you can try streaming the sugar in while your mixer is going.
How to Store Pavlova
You will not be able to store your cherry pavlova tree to eat for later. Pavlova is only good the same day that it is assembled.
If you wish to store the pavlova cake before you assemble it with whipped cream and cherry sauce, you will want to put it in an airtight container and keep it at room temperature. However, be sure to assemble it within two days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the texture of this pavlova?
This pavlova is baked into round layers that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Each layer of the cake is slathered in a soft, sweet whipped cream, and then topped with delicious cherry sauce.
How do you know if pavlova is overcooked?
You will know that the pavlova is done when the outsides are dry to the touch. The center of the cake should be a marshmallowy texture. It is fine if there are cracks in the crust.
What does vinegar do in pavlova?
You will not taste the vinegar that is being used in the pavlova. However, vinegar or lemon juice is very important because the combination of that and the cornstarch help to stabilize the pavlova so that it doesn’t collapse.
How long does a pavlova take to cool?
Once you have baked your pavlova, you will turn the oven off and leave it to cool in the oven for 3 hours. However, if you want to avoid cracks in your crust, it is recommended to leave the pavlova in the oven for 5 hours or even overnight to cool.
Other Cake Recipes You May Enjoy
Looking for the perfect dessert for your Christmas dinner? This Cherry Pavlova Tree is a decadent treat perfect for any Christmas celebration or dinner.
- 7 large egg whites
- 1 ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Red & green sanding sugar optional*
- 3 cups chopped cherries
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 225 F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a sharpie to mark outlines for the round layers that are 8 ½-9”, 7”, 6”, 5-5 ½”, 4”, 3 ½”, 2” in diameter. Leave at least 1 ½” of space between each circle to account for any possible rising and swelling of the meringue. You can use things around your house such as cake pans, bowls and cups to make the outlined circles. Leave about 4” of space to one side of the parchment for the star. I left the space on the parchment with the largest circle for the star.
To make the meringue, place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed, 4, for 1 minute or until a microfoam with small bubbles has formed. With the mixer still going, slowly stream in the sugar. Continue whisking for 1 minute or until the microfoam has increased and the bubbles are larger and frothy. Add in the vinegar and salt and whisk for 3-5 minutes or until a white meringue with medium stiff peaks have formed. When you pull the whisk out of the meringue, a peak should form but the end will swoop down. The peak should not fall back into itself. Add in the cornstarch, vanilla and almond extract and whisk for 2-3 more minutes or until the meringue is stiff and the peaks hold themselves up.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip ¾ full with meringue. To help keep the parchment stuck to the baking sheet, pipe or use the back of a spoon to spread a touch of the meringue on the back of each corner of parchment and press down. Using a rubber spatula, divide the meringue between each of the circle outlines. Be sure to leave about ⅓ - ½ c of meringue for the star. Spread the meringue around the circles leaving about ¼” of edging visible for piping the ruffle. The meringue does not have to be completely flat but do try and make the layers as smooth as possible so that they stack well in the end. Pipe a ruffled edge around as many layers of the meringue as you can, ensuring that the ruffle does touch the meringue circle so that it is attached.
To pipe the star, start by piping 5 lines in the shape of the star. Pipe a small connecting line from one leg of the star to the adjacent leg making sure that it is close to the center. This helps to fill the star out. Pipe a swirl into the center to cover up any funny lines that may be there from shaping the star. Push a cake pop stick or small dowel into the bottom of the star making sure that it is at least halfway into the star but does not come out of the top of the star tip. Optionally, sprinkle red and green sanding sugar over the star to add some depth and color.
Layer all of the pans into the oven, making sure that if the pans are slightly overlapping each other that they do not touch the meringues. Contrary to other baked goods that do not bake evenly when crowded into the oven, meringues are slowly baked and dried so feel free to layer the pans in on multiple racks. Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the meringues in the oven with the door closed for 3 hours to finish drying.
While the meringues are drying, make the cherry sauce. Place all of the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Place over low heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid scorching it. Once the mixture is cooked, use an immersion blender to blend any remaining cherry chunks. Pour into a heat proof bowl to cool to room temperature.
Once the meringues have dried out, carefully lift them from the parchment paper. Make the whipped cream by adding all of the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until a thick and fluffy whipped cream has formed.
Place the largest meringue layer onto a cake stand or serving platter. Spoon about ¾ c of whipped cream onto the center of the meringue and spread out to the edges of the meringue but do not cover the ruffle. Spoon several tablespoons of the cooled cherry sauce over the whipped cream. Place the next largest layer on top and top with about ⅓-½ c of whipped cream and several tablespoons of cherry sauce. Place the third largest layer on and top with ¼ c of whipped cream and more cherry sauce. Carefully press a cake pop stick or dowel rod down through the center of the meringue layers to keep them centered. Continue doing so with the layers, using less and less whipped cream and cherry sauce each time. Once the top layer is topped with whipped and cherry sauce, carefully press the star onto the top using the dowel to stand it up. For added decoration, place 2” long pieces of rosemary into the whipped cream layers, add on mini pine cones then dust the entire tree with powdered sugar.
Storage: Pavlova is only good the same day it is assembled.
Almond extract - This can be completely omitted from the recipe, just know that it will slightly alter the flavor.
Cherries - You can use a different berry or fruit in place of the cherries, such as raspberries, strawberries or even blueberries for a change in flavor.
Before adding the egg whites to the bowl of the stand mixer, ensure that it is dry and not at all oily. If you feel that it has an oily texture after thoroughly washing and drying it, you can wipe it down with a paper towel and some white vinegar.
Be sure to maintain the mixer speed when making the meringue. Increasing the speed will add too much air too quickly which will in turn create a faulty meringue which can deflate in areas when baking.
Do not over whip the whipped cream as it will separate and you will have to start over. If you find that creating a good, stiff whipped cream is difficult, try streaming the sugar in while the mixer is going.
What is the texture of this pavlova?
Meringue is baked into round layers that are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and overall very chewy. Each layer is slathered in a soft, sweet whipped cream and then topped with a delicious cherry sauce that brings in a contrasting flavor that pulls all of the sweetness of this dessert together into one delicious bite.