My spring time love for combining sweet, juicy berries with tart lemon is still going strong. I made these light and luscious pavlovas miniature sized so each guest could have their own little cloud come dessert time. Pavlova is naturally gluten free, so it was a perfect ending to a recent gluten free pasta party I hosted (more on that in another post!).
Pavlova is a lovely dessert made from a light but crisp meringue shell, filled with a rich cream and topped with fresh fruits. It gets it’s name from Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, as it was a dish created in her honor. Sweet, beautiful, and lighter than air, it is a befitting dish for a famous ballerina.
For meringue shells:
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar (needed to keep the meringue tender, you’ll never taste it!)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For lemon curd:
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- zest from the lemons you juiced (I used 3 big lemons, the juiciness of your lemons may vary!)
- 6 Tablespoons butter – cold
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 Tablespoon sugar
- Fresh berries and mint leaves
Begin by making the meringue shells. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat and set aside. Heat your oven to 250 (yes, 250 – not 350) degrees F. Place egg whites in a very clean mixer bowl with the whip attachment and beat until stiff peaks form. Meringue tips; fat prevents egg whites from whipping up, so make sure that the bowl and whisk are not greasy at all. The whites are at the stiff peak phase when you can see the mixer trails through the meringue, and if you life up the whisk, it will hold a stiff peak like this:
Now, combine the sugar and corn starch, and with the mixer running, add it slowly to the stiff egg whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla and turn up the speed to high for a few seconds to get it well incorporated.
Now we need to make little nest shapes on the prepared cookie sheet with this lovely meringue. I placed big spoonfuls down and then used a spoon to make a hollow in the center. You could also use a piping bag. If you want to make one big pavlova instead of individual ones, put all the meringue on the sheet and shape it with a spoon. Bake for 50 minutes (may take up to 60 if making one large pavlova).
While the shells are baking, make the lemon curd. Combine all ingredients except the butter in the top of a double boiler, and cook, whisking frequently until the mixture is getting thick (about 7-10 minutes). Remove from the heat. If the lemon curd seems a bit lumpy, you can press it through a fine meshed sieve. Immediately start stirring in the cold butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter is melted, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to assemble your pavlovas (only do this up to 1 or 2 hours prior to serving), whip the cup of cream with a tablespoons of sugar. Gently fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream. Place a meringue shell onto a plate, spoon in a big dollop of lemon cream and top with fresh berries and mint leaves.
Serve, and enjoy the wonderful combination of texture of the crisp meringue, airy cream, and juicy fruits!