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An Iconic Australian Dessert with a Delicious Twist: Meet Brown Sugar Pavlova

Achieve deeper, more complex flavor with this twist on a classic Aussie-inspired dessert.
By Published July 27, 2022

As a proud Aussie expat, there are a number of dishes that can immediately transport me right back to my dining room table among the gum trees in Sydney, Australia. A piping-hot meat pie is one of them; a fluffy, coconut-dusted lamington is another. 

But when it comes to a true blue celebration, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Australian household that doesn’t celebrate on a balmy summer’s night with a crispy, creamy pavlova (or “pav” if you want to blend in with the locals down at the pub).

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Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova for its buoyant, tulle-esque meringue, this festive dessert is an Australian icon, though it most likely originated in the kitchens of the country’s next-door neighbor New Zealand.

Baked meringue is topped with lashings of fresh cream and studded with summer fruits to create a dessert with a variety of textures and knockout flavor. A classic pav is garnished with anything from juicy berries to kiwi fruit or mango and is always topped off (at least in my household) with a generous spoonful of syrupy passionfruit pulp for that sunrise hue and piquant tang.

But that’s not to say this classic dish can’t use a little bit of dressing up now and then. While cocoa lovers can indulge in a pavlova loaded with bittersweet chocolate, my favorite twist is even simpler but results in a dramatic (and indulgently rich) flavor.

Rather than using only white sugar when whipping the egg whites into a meringue, Cook’s Country Senior Editor Jessica Rudolph adds in some brown sugar, giving the delicate shell a more complex, caramelized flavor.

With the addition of a little cornstarch—balancing the additional moisture in brown sugar to ensure that the outer layer of the pavlova stays crisp—this simple yet effective alteration offers additional depth of flavor and a slightly edgy hue to this bouncy ballerina of a dessert.

Topped with freshly cut stone fruit, this summer sweet would proudly grace any Aussie dinner table, and it should be invited to pull up a seat at yours too.