Deconstructed cherry pavlova “shots”

20080720 - CherryPavlovaCreamBackgroundTitle You’d think after my chastisement by the Internuts, I’d learn my lesson – but apparently I’m a slow learner (or I’m just plain otherwise!).


Yes, folks, I’m once again wading into murky waters into which angels fear to dangle their toes.  I am fully aware that I run the risk of being told that nobody from South African can make a “proper” pavlova because I am appropriating Antipodean culture; or that my take on a pavlova recipe is hopelessly culinarily incorrect and therefore a travesty.  But to make a omelette meringue, ya gotta break a few eggs, right?


Pavlova is these days generally taken to refer to a dessert consisting of a meringue base topped with whipped cream and fruit.  The fruit can be anything that takes your fancy, but if you are baking the meringue yourself, you need to get it crisp on the outside while retaining an appealing gooeyness on the inside (a fine art, apparently).  It is thought to have been named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballet dancer, during or after her tour of Australia and new Zealand in 1926.  The controversy that follows this delicious dessert wherever it goes stems from the fact that nobody seems to be sure who did it first – the Australians or the New Zelanders.


But now it seems that we may have an answer.  An culinary anthropologist named Helen Leach from the university of Otago has gone so far as to devote a serious book to the origins of pavlova.  And after much meticulous research, she has concluded that a) it doesn’t matter who invented it; but b) in case you disagree with that view, it seems that pavlova recipes in New Zealand literature predate those in Australian literature [CookSister ducks to dodge flying projectiles hurled by angry Aussie crowd!].


Enough history – on to my dessert.  I can happily lay claim to having dreamed this up all by myself – in fact the only reason that the word pavlova even crops up in the title of this dish is because it features whipped cream, fruit and meringue.  I could also have called it deconstructed Eton mess, but it didn’t have quite the same ring to it 😉  First off, let me confess that I did NOT make my own meringue. Somehow we hardly ever use up all those spare egg yolks, so it seemed less wasteful to buy ready-made meringues.  I discovered that Sainsbury’s sells a tub of rather lovely mini lemon meringues in their bakery.  They’re not chewy inside, but they do have a rather nice lemony tang to offset all the usual meringue sweetness.  The cherries were briefly cooked in an alcoholic syrup with some spices to give the whole dessert a rather grown-up flavour.  The contrast between the alcoholic cherries, sweet meringue and nutty almonds; or the soft cream and the crunchy almonds and meringue make this a perfectly balanced dessert.  Serving small portions in shot glasses makes for a very manageable size portion, and will impress the daylights out of your guests – apart from looking adorable!






300g fresh cherries, stoned and halved
cherry liqueur
caster sugar
half a cinnamon stick
1 green cardamom pod20080720 - CherryPavlovaRedBackgroundIIE


18 small meringues
250ml cream
4 Tbsp slivered almonds




Place the stoned and halved cherries in a small saucepan.  Add equal amounts of water and cherry liqueur until the cherries are almost covered.  Lightly crush the cardamom pod and add it together with the cinnamon stick to the saucepan.  Stir in 1 tsp caster sugar (if desired) until dissolved, then allow to simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Remove from the heat.


Crush the meringues into small chunks (but don’t pulverise them!) and whip the cream until soft peaks form.  In a dry frying pan, toast the slivered almonds, watching them all the time as they catch easily.


Remove the spices from the cherries.  Into the bottom of each large shot glass (or small wine glass) spoon 1-2 Tbsp of the cherry mixture.  Top with 2 crushed mini-meringues.  Spoon 2 Tbsp of whipped cream over the meringue and top with toasted slivered almonds.  Serve immediately with a fresh cherry and a mini meringue for garnish.


If you’re not in the mood for being chi-chi, serve in an ordinary dessert bowl in the same way as Eton mess. Not as cute but definitely just as delicious!


Other bloggers making delectable desserts with cherries include:




This post is my entry into this month’s Snackshots, hosted by my friend Michelle at The Greedy Gourmet.  The theme was meringue and I was relieved to see that store-bought meringues also qualify – phew!

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  1. says

    Your linked post with the itemized haters in it made me laugh and reminded me of the rather extreme responses I got (and continue to get, actually) back in January when I posted about lahmajoun.
    I think your deconstructed pavlovas look wonderful and anyone who has issues with them is just nuts.

  2. says

    I think everyone is entitled to cook and play with any recipes as they see fit. National pride is a lovely thing, but jingoism has offensive connotations for a reason.
    Cherries, cardamom and meringue? Jeanne, what *are* you doing to me? First-rate whimsy and delight.

  3. Mel says

    My fave! I wish I could cook like this, plant stuff that lives and dance with rhythym.
    I can eat stuff like this, get someone else to plant stuff and dance wonderfully (in my mind) when a bit drunk.

  4. Sally D says

    Wow, this looks really yummy. Now, if you were making this dessert here in Cape Town, you could use the utterly fabulous Melissa’s meringues which always have the correct light texture and sticky middle. Instead of crushing them you’d probably have to break them apart or maybe just knock the top off like a boiled egg.

  5. says

    I have no doubt that NZ made the pav first of all. Australia has no qualms about claiming anything from NZ as its own, almost as tho it is Australia’s 7th state.
    BUT I have to say if you have not eaten pavlova in a country town in Australia, you have not lived. There is so much more to it than your description portrays. It is truly heavenly. (I no longer eat eggs, but the memory stays with me. I grew up with pavs being a usual Sunday and Special Occassion dessert.)
    I love what you did with your “pavlova”. It looks amazing.

  6. says

    I don’t really know who made the first pav but my mum makes them all the time and they are often different but hers is what I think a pav is – and this is despite not being a huge fan of them. But that is one Aussie attitude for you – I actually think your version looks very interesting and is quite in line with the Aussie chefs’ love of fusion cooking.
    I read your post about internuts and that sort of commenting gets me down – I don’t understand such attitudes – esp after reading Melissa’s post at

  7. says

    That looks really good! Nice presentation! With cherries, cream and meringue you just can’t go wrong. And it is nicely portion controlled so you don’t eat too much.

  8. says

    It looks lovely! I’ve never tried making them…. Actually, I’ve thought they were just a test of the tenacity of British cooks (making a merangue in a damp climate)…
    Now I know…

  9. says

    I adore Eton mess, but it reminds me of childhood days and dinner with the siblings. However, you really shoozed this up and this will become a standbye in my home.
    Your ideas are so novel, wish you were close enough to phone!! Thanks for the fun writing style – you cheer up and lift my mood. Cardamom with cherries, stylish!!!!!!!!

  10. says

    What a fantastic end to a meal. Quite a grown-up dessert isn’t it??? Maybe next time hubby and I are “on Honeymoon” and the children are sleeping over at granny’s.

  11. says

    Ann – aaaah, yes, the Internuts. You have to laugh otherwise you’d cry 😉 I can’t believe people get so upset about a recipe, and usually not even their own recipe! My favourite is when I post a recipe, statign clearly that this is from Chef X’s book – and then people e-mail ME saying “how DARE you put cornflour in this dish??”, as if it was my sacrilegious idea. And the shots taste even beter than they look :)
    Susan – well said! One’s national pride should be a little more robust than depending on a recipe… And I have to say thaat boozy cherries and cardamom is a winning combo!!
    Patricia – just do it! It’s really easy and looks a lot more impressive than the amount of work required 😉
    Mel – LOL at the mental images!
    Michelle – thanks! They were rather ridiculously cute…
    Sally – I adore Melissa’s stuff and I’m sure the meringues would be no exception!
    Vegeyum – I think I’ll have to put that on my list of things to do before I die – eat Pavlova down under :)
    Johanna – yes! It’s fusion cooking! Why didn’t I think of that?! 😉 And as for the post you refer to – all that ridiculousness over a potato salad recipe? WTF do these people think they are?!
    Kevin – exactly – self-control in a shot glass. Who woulda thought?! I have to say the tastes and textures worked exceptionally well together.
    Courtney – ROTFL!! You are the best :)
    Katie – I have actually made meringues – even in this country! I actually find that the air inside buildings is pretty dry, what with heating and air-conditioning. Hate to know what it’s doing to my skin… :o)
    Dragon – just try it – you’ll fall in love!
    JustFood – awww *blush* thanks! It would be lovely to be able to chat, and yes! yes! Try cherries with cardamom. Very grown up 😉
    Brilynn – hear hear! Glad you like it :)
    Nina – oooh a sneaky pudding when the kids are at grandma’s – I like the way you think 😉
    We Are Never Full – agreed! These are so high-impact for low-effort and will impress any guest. Plus they are delish!
    Susan – “enough cherries”? I. Don’t. Think. So.
    Nic – WOW! OK, that is the compliment of the decade! You made my weekend – thanks :))

  12. says

    Oh – very neat! These look very elegant. Pavlova is one of my favourite desserts. But I have been too afraid of messing up an entire cake that I’ve never even tried making one. This looks more manageable.

  13. says

    As a Dedicated Kiwi Pavlova (both country & fruit) Afficianado, I give this my personal Stamp of Looks Darn Tasty and Bollocks to Foody Internuts Approval. ;-D