This Halloween Pavlova recipe yields a vanilla meringue with a crisp crust and soft inside filled with cherry compote, chocolate mascarpone and oreo crumbs topped with a graveyard of meringue bones and headstones. This graveyard-inspired halloween dessert is a perfect spooky party centerpiece.
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I recently asked my Instagram followers what kind of desserts they wanted to see and I was surprised to see so many people asking for a pavlova! So this is me obliging that request. The decoration inspiration for this halloween party dessert came from Domestic Gothess, while the cherry compote was adapted from Wonky Wonderful and the pavlova was adapted from Baker Street Society.
I always forget how much I love meringues, both making and eating them. My first foray into baking meringue were my Raspberry Chocolate Meringue Kisses. I have worked with toasted meringue many times, usually on my baked alaskas. My favorite being my Mint Chocolate Chip Baked Alaska.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- A pavlova is super customizable. You can change the fillings and decoration.
- This is a showstopper dessert, perfect for entertaining.
- Pavlova is the perfect recipe to use up a lot of egg whites.
- Chocolate and cherry are a perfect flavor combo.
- Egg whites are the vital base of the meringue for the pavlova to have structure.
- The meringue and fillings are sweetened with granulated/superfine/caster sugar.
- Cherries bring flavor and color to the drippy blood compote.
- Heavy cream and mascarpone provide richness to the chocolate filling.
- Oreo crumbs serve as a texture variation and dirt for the graveyard.
- Cocoa powder brings a smooth chocolate flavor to the filling.
- Lemon, vanilla extract and kosher salt balance the overall flavor profile.
- Cornstarch and cream of tartar ensure texture and structure in the compote and the meringue.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and variations
Here’s how to customize this pavlova to your liking:
- No cocoa powder — use 2 tablespoons of melted and cooled chocolate instead or omit completely.
- Different berries — swap cherries for raspberries or strawberries.
- Grassy graveyard — rub green food coloring into coconut flakes and use on top of or in place of the oreo crumb dirt.
- Ghost meringues — pipe the reserved meringue into ghosts using a larger round piping tip, like Domestic Gothess.
- No mascarpone — substitute the mascarpone with cream cheese.
- Different fillings — fill with buttercream, lemon curd or jam instead.
- No fresh cherries — use frozen dark cherries.
This recipe has not been tested with any substitutions or variations. If you try any, please let me know how it turned out by commenting below!
How to shape a pavlova
Step 1: Dump the meringue onto the baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to form a cylindrical, barrel-like shape. Make a divot in the top for the fillings.
Step 2: Swipe the offset spatula up the sides to create ridges.
Step 3: Use the reserved meringue to pipe bones and headstones.
Step 4: Fill the baked pavlova with the chocolate mascarpone, cherry compote and oreo crumbs. Garnish with meringue headstones and bones.
- If you need a recipe to use up all the leftover egg yolks after making this, I suggest making an ice cream like my Chamomile Ice Cream.
- If you cannot find or do not want to buy superfine or caster sugar, I recommend blitzing granulated sugar in a food processor or blender for 10-20 seconds.
- If you don’t have cocoa powder, replace it with 2 tablespoons of melted and cooled chocolate.
- Be very careful when peeling away the parchment from the small piped bones and headstones! They crack easily.
An assembled pavlova is best eaten the day it is made. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
This is not recommended as it could affect the success of the meringue.
Caster sugar is a superfine sugar that is finer than granulated sugar. Caster sugar is called for here because it dissolves easier into the meringue.
More recipes you’ll love
Lastly, if you make this Halloween Pavlova recipe be sure to leave a comment or give it a rating. I love to see when people make my recipes, so please tag me @youthsweets on Instagram if you post!
Pavlova + decorations
- 230 grams egg whites (about 7 egg whites)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups caster sugar* superfine sugar (310g)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ lb dark cherries fresh or frozen, pitted and sliced in half (8oz)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoon water divided
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Chocolate mascarpone filling
- ¾ cup heavy cream divided
- 8 oz mascarpone (226g)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50g)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoon cocoa powder** (22g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup oreo cookie crumbs (from 16 whole oreos)
- The cherry compote can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.
- Prepare a medium baking pan with parchment. On the underside of the parchment draw an 8-inch circle as a guide. Prepare a second medium baking pan with another sheet of parchment.
- Prepare a large piping bag with a small round piping tip. Prepare another large piping bag with a large french star tip for piping the filling.
- Wipe all bowls and utensils used for the meringue with vinegar to remove oils. Oil is the enemy of meringue.
Make the pavlova
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, cream of tartar and kosher salt. Beat on speed 4 until soft peaks form and then begin slowly sprinkling the sugar in 1 tablespoon in at a time until it is all in. Scrape the bowl down a few times to ensure all of the sugar gets incorporated.
- Continue mixing on speed 4 until stiff peaks form, about 25-30 minutes. Add the cornstarch and lemon juice and mix just until incorporated.
- Remove about ¾ cup of meringue to the prepared piping bag with the small round tip. Set aside. Place the remaining meringue onto the prepared baking sheet with the 8-inch guide circle.
- Use an offset spatula to shape the pile of meringue into a cylindrical, barrel shape (see step-by-step photos for help). Make a small divot in the top, which is where the filling will go.
- Use the reserved meringue in the piping bag with the small round tip to pipe bone, skeleton and headstone shapes on the second prepared baking sheet.
- Place both trays in the preheated oven and turn down the temperature to 250°F. Bake for 90 minutes and DO NOT open the oven at all during baking or it could deflate. After 90 minutes, turn off the oven and let the pavlova rest in there until completely cool, at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
Make the cherry compote
- In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, lemon juice and ¼ cup water. Heat 5-7 minutes or until boiling. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes while stirring often.
- Stir together the remaining 2 tablespoon water and cornstarch. Add to the compote and stir through. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until desired consistency. It will thicken a bit when cooled.
- Cool completely in the refrigerator before assembly.
Make the chocolate mascarpone filling
- Beat ½ cup of the heavy cream to stiff peaks in a stand mixer or with hand beaters.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the remaining ¼ cup heavy cream, mascarpone, salt and vanilla until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and beat just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Add the whipped cream and fold through. Transfer to the prepared piping bag with the French star tip.
- Pipe half of the chocolate mascarpone filling inside the divot on top of the baked pavlova. Sprinkle some of the oreo crumbs on top.
- Spoon on as much of the cherry compote as you would like, reserving some for dripping down the sides.
- Pipe more of the chocolate mascarpone filling in a radial pattern on top. Sprinkle more of the oreo crumbs on top, leaving the mascarpone edge design exposed.
- Top with the meringue bones and headstones***.