Recipe: Brown sugar pavlova with poached pears and caramel sauce

Styling: Kate Arbuthnot.

Styling: Kate Arbuthnot.

Pavlova is a classic celebration dessert and this recipe gives it a wintry twist. The combination of pears, ginger cream, and rich caramel, alongside the crisp and chewy pavlova, makes for a wonderful dessert. It's a bit messy, which keeps things a casual and approachable – perfect for a family feast. The recipe is adapted from a New Zealand food blog called Toast. 


6 egg whites, at room temperature
380g brown sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Poached pears:
4-5 cups water
1½ cups white sugar
4 pears, cut into eighths and cores removed
3-4 slices fresh ginger 
1 cinnamon stick 

Ginger cream: 
500ml cream
1 teaspoon ground ginger 

Caramel sauce: 
1 cup brown sugar 
½ cup cream 
60g butter
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


Pavlova: Heat oven to 140°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. 

Beat egg whites until stiff then gradually add brown sugar until firm and glossy. Be patient, this can take a good 10 minutes. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla then beat on low until combined. 

Tip mixture onto baking tray and, using a rubber spatula, shape it into a large rectangle about 5-6cm high. Smooth the edges with the spatula then bake 1 hour, until firm and lightly coloured. Take from oven and cool completely before serving. Pavlova can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in an airtight container. 

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Poached pears: Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Add pear pieces (skin on), ginger and cinnamon. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Allow pears to cool in the liquid and keep them there until ready to use; they can be made 1-2 days ahead. (The poaching liquid will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days and works well as a substitute for sugar syrup in cocktails; try adding it to a Tom Collins.) 

Ginger cream: Whip cream and ginger together until soft peaks form. 

Caramel sauce: Mix sugar, cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook about 6-7 minutes, whisking gently. Add vanilla then cook for another minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – the sauce will thicken as it cools. It will keep in the fridge for about a week; just reheat gently or use cold.

To assemble: Carefully transfer pavlova to a serving board. Spread the ginger cream over, leaving a good 2cm clear around the edge. Spoon the pears on top then drizzle over the caramel sauce.  

Serves 6-8  

 - NZ House & Garden

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