The world’s greatest dessert: 10 superb pavlovas – from peach melba to beautiful banoffee

When the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova visited Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s, she was honoured with the world’s greatest pudding. The influence of the pavlova – a huge disc of meringue topped with whipped cream and fruit – has since spread around the world. Aquí están 10 incredible pavlova variations for you to gorge on.

We’ll start with the basics. Felicity Cloake’s perfect pavlova is exactly as a pavlova should be. The care she takes over the meringue element – keeping her egg whites forensically separate from any trace of yolk and whisking them in a “scrupulously clean” metal or glass bowl – ensures that the finished product is the right mix of crispy and chewy. sin embargo, Cloake demurs when it comes to fruit. She leaves that element down to personal preference, perhaps because she knows the untameable wrath of Pavlova Twitter. But let’s run through our options now.

As you’d expect, Kim-Joy’s rainbow pavlova is nothing short of delightful. She deviates from the norm in a couple of interesting ways, adding food colouring to the meringue and then adding gold leaf to the cracks that occur during the baking process. But my favourite element is her final flourish. After piling the pav high with chopped fresh fruit, she gets a couple of whole strawberries and ices little faces on to them. I’d worry that my family would scoff the lot before noticing this careful detail, but if you’re blessed with relatives who are a little more observant then go ahead.

Let’s move away from the traditional fresh fruit now, and start to get jazzy. There is a huge chance that purists will boil with rage at the sight of Jane Baxter’s rhubarb and custard pavlova – the meringue and cream here comes topped with thick custard and plenty of rhubarb compote – but that just means more rhubarb and custard pavlova for you.

In Australia and New Zealand, pavlova is traditionally a Christmas dessert. But making a Christmas pavlova here either requires plenty of summer fruit, and all the accompanying food mile guilt, or a more considered approach. This is what Angela Hartnett does, poaching pears with dried apricots, figs and dates in syrup and then laying them on top. Allí, much more Christmassy.

I have to admit to reverse-engineering this one, after finding myself desperate to eat a banoffee pavlova. I scoured the internet for the best recipe and appear to have struck gold with Everyday Gourmet’s version. While most banoffee fanatics would be happy enough to just top a meringue with bananas and caramel, this one starts from scratch, using brown sugar to bring out the caramel of the meringue. But the topping is where this dish really sings. The bananas are bruléed, the caramel is mixed with cream and creme fraiche and the whole thing is topped with honeycomb and chocolate. quiero decir, imagine.

In my book, there is no such thing as a rolled pavlova. There is pavlova, and then there is roulade. Pero, hey, Yotam Ottolenghi calls his recipe a rolled pavlova, and I’m too much of a coward to argue, so we’ll just go with it. It’s a blackberry and peach meringue that is rolled up into a sausage shape after baking. I’ll leave you to squabble among yourselves on this one.

Nigella’s chocolate and raspberry pavlova is another wonderful variant. The top two thirds of the thing are classic pavlova; it’s only underneath that things start to get interesting. The meringue itself here is chocolatey, darkened first with cocoa powder and then stirred through with chopped dark chocolate. It’s a transformational addition, and one you should really try.

Quickly, a word for vegans. Pavlovas are so loaded with egg and dairy that you may well have been steering clear of them for some time. sin embargo, Australian Delicious magazine has a recipe for vegan pavlovas. It is more of a faff than regular pavlovas – the meringues are made by whisking the liquid from a can of chickpeas with sugar and cornflour, then they’re topped with whipped coconut cream – but look, it’s either this or no pavlova.

If you’re entertaining fancy friends who won’t be delighted by the sight of a normal pavlova then, primero, get better friends. Pero, if that isn’t an option, you could always try presenting them with the Epicurious recipe for pink peppercorn pavlova. This is a traditional strawberry pavlova at heart, although one fancified by a couple of additions: the meringue has crushed peppercorns in it, and the strawberries are topped with a basil syrup. Yum.

Let’s end by coming full circle. The pavlova was named after a Russian dancer who visited Australia, mientras que la peach melba was named after an Australian singer who visited Europe. So hats off to Something Sweet Something Savoury for coming up with a peach melba pavlova. It’s a pavlova topped with peaches and a raspberry sauce, and that’s it. It’s perfect. Now someone name a pudding after me.

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