This dessert is what I save for the most special occasions. I made these Mini Pavlova for Mother’s Day this year and I have to say, if you want to make an extraordinary dessert, This. Is. It. The delicious meringue literally melts in your mouth. It’s like little clouds of heaven topped with lemon curd, fresh fruit and whipped cream.
The first time I made this, I was very intimidated by the thought of the meringue. But it’s actually fairly easy to make and I’m going to share all the tips so you can look like a pro on your first try, too.
No Need To Share, There’s Enough For Everyone
I don’t recall where I got this recipe, but I remember that recipe serving suggestion was for one large meringue that would be cut into individual servings. I like the idea of the miniature Pavlova that can be customized for each guest’s taste at the dessert table.
Leftovers of a large Pavlova with all the toppings would need to be refrigerated. The cold temperature and the moisture from the lemon curd would affect the texture of the meringue.
Making individual meringues that can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature preserves the structure of the meringue and can be kept up to a couple of weeks.
Berries, Citrus, Creams and Curds Galore
There are so many combination of fruits that can be used as a topping. I like the idea of setting out a whole buffet style dessert bar. There would be a wide variety of berries and citrus fruit along with stone fruits and tropical selections, too.
You can use the basics for making lemon curd and switch out the zest and juice of lemons with oranges or limes. Providing a variety of curds to mix and match with the various fruits. Not to mention the different variations of whipped cream that can concocted.
What Can’t You Do With Meringue?
A friend and I were recently discussing the endless possibilities of uses for the meringue shells. We came up with many options, but edible bowls for ice cream is something I am going to have to try soon. That would be fun. I once ran out of curd but had one lonely meringue left, so I used chocolate pudding and whipped cream. It was nowhere near as elegant as the Pavlova, but it was actually pretty tasty.
I’m thinking there must be some savory options that haven’t been explored yet as well. Hmmm? Well, I’m starting to get sidetracked here. Back to the Pavlova.
Making The Meringue
Using room temperature eggs will give your meringue more volume. For the meringue, you will only use the egg whites. So, about 30 to 60 minutes before you are ready to start, separate your eggs. Reserve the yolk for the curd.
Beat the egg whites and add the ingredients as described in the instructions of the recipe. If you’re a multitasker in the kitchen, be sure that you are starting with a clean, dry bowl, beaters or whisk that are free of any fatty residue. Your eggs won’t stiffen if there is any residue remaining on your bowl or utensils.
This process can take about 20 minutes. The egg whites will eventually form stiff peaks. You’re almost done. Just take a pinch of the meringue and rub it between your fingers. It should feel silky and sticky. If it feels gritty from the sugar, beat for another minute or two.
Once the meringue is done, use care not to disturb the meringue too much as you could deflate the air you just beat into it. You should carefully spoon the meringue onto your parchment lined baking sheet and gently spread the mixture to create a bowl-like shell. I like to delicately transfer the meringue into a cake decorating bag and pipe the meringue into neat bowls. Whichever way you decide to get it to the oven, there are some more tips to consider while baking.
Baking Meringue DOs and DON’Ts
You DO want to bake at a low temperature…ideally 250 degrees. You’re basically drying out the stickiness of the meringue. But, meringue is delicate, so it needs to be done slowly. DON’T bake at a higher temperature to try to get it done quicker. It’s going to take as long as it’s going to take.
You DO want to keep the oven door closed while the meringue is baking. Your meringue will crack if there is a change in temperature. DON’T open the door every 5 minutes to check on them. They will need to bake for 60 minutes. If you peak through the window and see that they are starting to get brown, reduce the oven temperature by 15 or 20 degrees.
When they are done baking, DO turn off the oven. DO leave the meringues in the oven for at least an hour so they can continue to dry on the outside. DON’T remove them from the oven sooner, due to the above-mentioned change in temperature.
A delicate meringue dessert that will literally melt in your mouth. This is the best dessert for showcasing fresh fruit, curd and cream.
For The Meringue
- 6 extra large eggs (separated) room temperature whites for the meringue (reserve yolks for the curd)
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice (from the curd ingredients)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- various berries or other fruit as desired
For The Curd
- 6 egg yolk (from the meringue)
- 2 extra large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon zest from approx. 5 lemons
- 1/2 cup fresh freshly squeezed lemon juice from approx. 5 lemons
- pinch salt
- 8 tbsp butter diced into small cubes
For The Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
For The Meringue
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer, beat the room temperature egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on high speed (check your manufacturer's setting for aerating egg whites) until soft peaks form. The soft peaks can be made by pulling the beater out of the eggs whites.
Continue beating on high speed. Gradually add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Stiff peaks will form and when the meringue no longer feels gritty, beat in the lemon juice and the vanilla.
Gently fold the cornstarch into the meringue. Be careful not to mix the meringue as it could deflate the air that you just beat into it.
Spoon 6 mounds of meringue onto two large parchment lined baking sheets. Leaving a couple of inches space between each mound. Carefully spread the meringue and shape it into the form of a bowl. (Or gently transfer the meringue to a cake decorating bag and lightly pipe the meringue into a bowl shape.)
Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow to cool down for another hour. Do not open the door during the baking or cooling process. Changes in temperature will crack your meringue. (During the baking and cool down process, proceed to the instructions for making the curd and whipped cream.)
Once the meringue has fully cooled, spread a spoonful of curd on top of the meringue.
Spread fresh whipped cream over the lemon curd.
Top with fruit of your choice. I used raspberries, blackberries, mango, strawberries, and kiwi.
For The Curd
In the bottom portion of a double boiler over medium heat, bring 1 or 2 inches of water to a low simmer. Reduce heat to medium/low.
In the top portion of the double boiler, add the egg yolks and the whole eggs. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking constantly to keep the mixture smooth. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt.
Continue whisking over medium/low heat for approximately 8 minutes. If the heat is too high or there is a long lapse in the whisking, you will end up with lemon flavored scrambled eggs. So, keep whisking until the mixture is thoroughly cooked and the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat. Add small amounts of the cubed butter pieces at a time. Continue whisking until the butter melts and is incorporated into the mixture.
Strain the mixture into a medium bowl to remove any remaining solid zest pieces.
For The Whipped Cream
Add the confectioner's sugar to a large bowl of a mixer. Add the heavy whipping cream and whip the cream for about 5 minutes or just until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to beating. This will help give the meringue more volume.
So, what do you think? Give it a try and let me know how you did in the comments below. Also, please like us on Facebook and Twitter. I’d love to hear more from you and see what you’re cooking.