Oh my gosh, you guys. I’m pretty sure this is the girliest dessert I’ve ever made. Doesn’t it look like it belongs at a tea party?! It’s so light and airy and fluffy and delicate. I mean, I’d totally host a tea party or a wedding or baby shower if it meant I could serve this.
But what the heck is it exactly? The name doesn’t really fit the dessert if you ask me. Apparently the pavlova was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (thanks, Wikipedia!). A pavlova is basically a meringue cake with a crisp outside and a soft, pillowy inside. It’s traditionally topped with whipped cream and fruit, as it is here.
My first attempt at making a pavlova did not go over so well. I didn’t let it cook long enough or cool properly and the result was a mess. Luckily, that struggle led me to discovering this pretty foolproof method that involves gradually decreasing the temperature as you go, yielding an appropriately baked, much prettier final product.
You want to know what the best part of this whole dessert is? It’s totally the lemon curd. I could have eaten it all with a spoon…no kidding! I’m such a sucker for it, especially this yummy homemade version. If you don’t have time to go the homemade lemon curd route, no need to fear! I’m sure it would be lovely with a store bought version as well (I think you’ll need about a cup of lemon curd, but it’s probably best to start with a little less and taste and adjust as needed).
You can top this with whatever berries you love the most. I’ve been loving all of the berries lately since they’re all so delicious right now and so inexpensive!
This pavlova would be a sweet, refreshing treat at the end of your Memorial Day festivities and could also totally work for Fourth of July with strawberries and blueberries – so patriotic!
Another holiday weekend recipe is coming your way this Friday. Stay tuned!
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup finely grated, loosely packed lemon zest (from about 5 to 6 medium lemons)
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 to 4 lemons)
- ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, at room temperature
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1½ cups fresh berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and/or sliced strawberries
- Fill a medium saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring water to a simmer over high heat. Once water is simmering, reduce heat to low to keep the water at a bare simmer.
- Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt together in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the yolks thicken and the mixture forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted from the bowl, about 7 to 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on the water in the saucepan to make sure it does not boil. If the water boils, reduce the heat so the eggs do not curdle.)
- Turn off the heat and take mixing bowl off of the saucepan. Whisk the butter into the lemon/egg yolk mixture one piece at a time, waiting until each piece is completely mixed in before adding another.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to strain curd into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Press and scrape the curd along the inside of the strainer to release as much of the curd as possible. (Make sure to scrape the strained curd from the under side of the strainer into the mixing bowl. You don’t want to lose any of the delicious lemon curd!) Discard the solids from inside the strainer.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place in refrigerator until curd is set and chilled, at least 3 hours. (The curd can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days ahead.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in center of the oven.
- Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Use a 9-inch round cake pan and pencil to trace a circle onto the parchment paper. Turn the sheet of parchment paper upside down so that the pencil drawing is facing down (you should still be able to see the drawing). Set aside.
- To the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk until foamy.
- Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract to the bowl and continue whipping until stiff, smooth, and glossy (should resemble marshmallow cream), about 8 additional minutes.
- Spoon the egg white mixture into the circle drawn on parchment paper. Use a silicone spatula to push the mixture out evenly over the entire circle. Smooth the top and sides of the disk.
- Bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until the pavlova has puffed up and cracked on the top, and the surface is lightly browned to the color of cafe au lait, approximately 45 minutes more.
- After the pavlova has slightly browned, turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly, and let it cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes until it reaches room temperature. (This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.)
- Once the pavlova reaches room temperature, remove from the oven. The pavlova should easily release from the parchment paper at this point. Transfer the pavlova to a cake stand to decorate.
- Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1½ to 2 minutes.
- Remove the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, fold the chilled lemon curd into the whipped cream, leaving big streaks of curd and whipped cream.
- Spread the whipped cream/lemon curd mixture on top of the pavlova.
- Top with the fresh berries and serve the pavlova immediately.