berry topped pavlova
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Canakis,

Phoebe Canakis’ Berry Topped-Pavlova is a perfectly red, white and blue dessert to suit July 4th celebrations. Canakis lives in Lancaster County and is the food-mind behind inspiring seasonally chic, seductively wholesome, garden-to-plate eats through her blogs, magazine, catering and pure food pantry efforts.

Her recently released online-based Phoebe’s Pure Food Magazine is what she calls “a beautiful collection of sweet and savory seasonal recipes and DIY from regional Southeastern Pennsylvania growers and food producers.” When in search of compelling, healthy, locally-based recipes, her magazine is quite the go-to guide.

Pavlova, as a meringue cake with a crispy, light crust, beckons of a marshmallow-rich center. The dessert’s name stems from the delicately airy footfalls of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who lived from 1881 to 1931.

“It makes berries look and taste good,” Canakis says about her Berry-Topped Pavlova. “It’s fuss free—as long as you prepare it on a humid-free day—and it’s light in calories, too. It’s like eating a cloud, kind of light.”

Canakis’ recipe incorporates a blend of berries as either strawberries and blueberries or raspberries to keep the red, white, and blue in the picture with some whipped cream to boot. Other times of the year you could add in-season fruit like blackberries or peaches, as pictured above.

“I have found that you want to be sure to use a super fine sugar (not powdered sugar),” Canakis admits. “The sugar needs to be incorporated without over-whipping the eggs, but it does not require an extra trip to the store—just put it in the food processor or spice mill.”

On top of that, Canakis reflects on how this recipe, put together with berries picked up at Wolff’s Apple House, makes for a smart wallet-choice in the early days of summer.

“It’s cost-effective but has a great wow factor and lets the seasonal fruit be the star of the plate,” Canakis says.


Berry-Topped Pavlova

  • Author: Phoebe Canakis, Phoebe's Pure Food
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Irish


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (put sugar in spice/coffee mill or blender and pulse for 3 to 4 seconds to thin it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar/lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Topping—
  • 3 cups whipped cream
  • fresh berries and fruit (strawberries and blueberries or raspberries as another option)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. You can make a few small “cakes” or 1 large “cake.” If making one cake, draw an 8-inch circle on the parchment.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until thick and glossy and hold soft peaks.
  4. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract and vinegar; sift the cornstarch over the top of the meringue and combine.
  6. Spread the meringue to fit inside the circle on the parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 1 hour. the shell of the meringue should feel crisp, then turn the oven off and but leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely. The outside of the meringue should feel hard and crack if pressed and the inside is soft and marshmallow-y.
  8. The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool, dry place. Really. A humid day is not the day to make this meringue. Store in an airtight container. Add berries and whipped cream when ready to serve.

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