Make the Pavlova: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 9-inch circle in the middle (I traced 8-inch parchment rounds, but you could cake pans or anything else about the same diameter). Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy, then add the cream of tartar. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat to soft peaks. While continuing to beat the egg whites, gradually add the granulated sugar (I estimate that I added about 3 tablespoons at a time), then the vanilla, and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Spoon the mixture onto the circle, and use a spatula to shape the egg white mixture into a circle with decorative sides, if desired.
Bake for 1 hour, or until firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.
Make the Whipped Cream: Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat on medium-high speed until it holds stiff peaks.
Transfer the pavlova to a serving platter, then top with the whipped cream and fresh fruit. Serve immediately.
Meringue Help: Read through how to make meringue for troubleshooting tips if you need some extra confidence!
Cream of Tartar Substitute: If you don't have the cream of tartar, you can substitute 1½ teaspoons of either lemon juice or white vinegar.
Cornstarch: While this pavlova recipe does not use cornstarch, some swear by adding it (see the ingredient notes above). If you wish to add it, I recommend stirring 2 teaspoons into the sugar before adding to the egg whites.
Mini Pavlovas: You can make individual pavlovas by piping (or dolloping) small meringue circles on the parchment instead of one large circle (I recommend the Wilton 1M piping tip). They will only need to bake for about 25 to 30 minutes; check for doneness - they should feel firm and dry.
Garnishes: Fresh fruit, including mixed berries, kiwi, and blood oranges. Other topping options are a raspberry sauce, lemon curd (use up those leftover egg yolks!), or wine-poached pairs, to name a few! Use your favorites or whatever is in season.
Storage: Store cooled pavlova in a large, airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 days maximum. Do not refrigerate this pavlova! It will condensate and fall apart as it chills. You can store the whipped cream and garnishes separately if not serving immediately.
Make-Ahead: The pavlova layer can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container once completely cool. However, pavlova is best enjoyed shortly after being topped and garnished. It does not store or freeze well.