Classic Manhattan Pavlova

And meringue week keeps rolling along! Here we have a pavlova, now my all-time favorite gluten-free dessert. This was a very happy accident, spurred by two pounds of fresh cherries that needed a home. The result was this confection of cream and meringue topped with dark cherries.

You know when you use a word, and you're not sure where you've heard it, but you think you might know what it means? That was me with pavlova. I blame the Great British Bake Off for plopping it into my head. I sort of knew what it was, and I knew it had meringue. Little did I know how perfect (and delicious) it would be.

The pavlova is named after an early 20th-century Russian ballerina, but is culturally significant in New Zealand and Australia. Traditionally it is served around Christmas time, with fresh summer fruits like berries, kiwi, and passion fruit. Cool eh!

Already a stunning dessert, it's not till you drizzle the sauce on top that the magic happens.

Unable to find a solid cherry pavlova recipe, I was more or less going off the top of my head on this one. I tinkered around with the cherry sauce and whipped cream until I got them right.


By a huge stroke of luck and/or a nod from the dessert gods, the combination of vanilla bean, angostura orange bitters, and dark cherries made it taste strangely familiar. What was it?

Oh, a Manhattan.

You know, the cocktail?

Find how to make it here.
This made me almost giddy, as it's one of my favorite cocktails (particularly when I wanna feel fancy)!

And the Manhattan Pavlova was born, minimalist color palette and all. Next time I make this, I will absolutely attempt a whiskey meringue and throw in some sweet vermouth to the sauce. In the meantime, here's what I did:

Total time: 2 hours
Bake time: 1 hour


For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sugar
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Topping:
1 pound cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
Angostura Orange bitters, to taste


  1. Pit the cherries, and divide them into two groups. In the first, slice in half, saving a few for garnish, if desired. Place the rest of the cherries in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar. Toss and let sit.
  2. Preheat the oven to 280 F. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks, then slowly add the sugars until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form.
  3.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. In pencil, trace a 6'' wide bowl to create a circular outline. Flip the parchment sheet over so the pencil is facing down.
  4. Pour the meringue into the drawn circle, and make into a disk about 2 inches high, with a dip in the center.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, until crispy on the outside but still malleable.* Leave to cool in the oven.  *My oven is very humid, so the meringue turned brown (despite my best efforts). However, it can be pale or even white when complete.
Whip the cream:
  1. With an electronic mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla on a medium-high speed. Watch it carefully. It will only take a few minutes to become thick and fluffy. I looked away for a minute and ended up with some freshly churned vanilla butter.
Make the sauce:
  1. Place the macerated cherries into a food processor or blender. Whirl for a few seconds, until thoroughly crushed. If you don't have either, place the cherries in a gallon-sized zip lock bag and crush with a meat cleaver or rolling pin. Strain the fruit, and collect the sauce.
  2. Add a dash or two of orange bitters, to taste.
Assemble the pavlova:
  1. When the meringue has completely cooled, pour the whipped cream into the dipped center. Pile on the halved cherries. 
  2. When ready to serve, pour the sauce over the top with abandon. Devour immediately. 

Tada! Simple, decadent, and easy to make. This would be perfect for parties, and you could top it with whatever fruit your heart desires. It lasts about 2-3 days in the fridge, loosely covered (the meringue holds up surprisingly well).

Happy Baking!


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