A wonderful dessert any time, but especially nice at Easter! This Lemon Curd Pavlova has a marshmallow center, a crispy outside and topped with creamy lemon curd, it's easy, fresh, light and can be made ahead.
When it comes to Easter desserts, my mind always seems to go to lemon. The flavours are so bright and the pretty yellow colour of lemons is perfect for Spring. This Lemon Curd Pavlova is a great way to enjoy all those things and it's easy to make ahead, to make your Easter cooking and entertaining easy.
A classic pavlova has a lovely light, marshmallow-like center and a crispy outside. It's the perfect base for all kinds of things, but a creamy lemon curd is a wonderful pairing - a bit of tart with the sweet.
Cook's Notes for Lemon Curd Pavlova
As mentioned, both the pavlova meringue base and the lemon curd can be made ahead, just don't put them together until right before serving. It only takes a minute to spread the curd on top and garnish with some lemon slices and blueberries.
To make the pavlova ahead, simply prepare and bake off 12-24 hours ahead and leave at room temperature until needed. If you don't need your oven, just leave it in there. Otherwise, just cover with a clean tea towel and leave it on the counter. Don't refrigerate your meringue, as it will "sweat" and become soggy. (Note that if you are in a humid climate, you'll need to protect it from the humidity as much as possible. An airtight container is probably your best bet here).
The lemon curd can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days.
The lemon curd I made for this one is not a classic curd, as it uses whole eggs instead of just the yolks. The result is a lighter, creamier curd, which is almost pudding-like. It's a great topping for the pavlova. That said, if you have a favourite lemon curd recipe, feel free to use it instead.
For serving, offer extra fresh blueberries for the plate. While perfect as is, a dollop of whipped cream on the side as well would never be a bad idea :)
5 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova
- Make sure your mixing bowl is squeaky clean.
- Use older eggs and separate them carefully to ensure absolute no yolk mixes with the whites.
- Separate eggs while cold, but let them sit to come to room temperature before whipping. Cold eggs separate more easily and room temperature whites will whip up better.
- Use a deep, narrow bowl to ensure that the beater are well in to the egg whites, to whip them up most efficiently.
- Whip until your sugar is fully dissolved your sugar. Using superfine sugar helps. If you only have regular sugar, you can run it through a food processor before using, to make finer grains.
Lemon Curd Pavlova
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained)
- Pinch of salt
- 6 egg whites
- 1 tsp cream of tartar (OR 1/2 tsp salt)
- 1 1/3 cups superfine white sugar (OR normal granulated sugar run through a food processor for a minute or so or just use normal granulated sugar and beat longer per instructions)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Thin lemon slices
- Fresh blueberries
- Fresh mint leaves
- Powdered sugar (for dusting)
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of one lemon in large strips.
- In a large bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine lemon zest strips, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon juice and salt. Whisk together over the heat until the lemon curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This will take 15-20 minutes. Once thickened, discard lemon zest and strain through a fine mesh sieve in to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 week.
- Preheat oven to 395F.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, then line with a sheet of parchment paper (the spray just helps the parchment stick to the tray, so it doesn't move around as your spreading the meringue). Place an 8-inch springform outer right (without the bottom part) in the centre of the baking sheet. (Alternately, draw an 8-inch circle in the centre of the parchment to use as a guide.) Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer and a clean, narrow, deep bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whipping attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar (or salt) on the highest setting until soft peaks form (using a narrow deep bowl ensures the beaters are well into the whites and will build up the greatest volume). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, without stopping the mixer, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Add 3 tsp of cornstarch with the last tablespoon of sugar. Whip mixture until sugar is completely dissolved. Dissolving the sugar should take about 10-12 mins (or if using normal granulated sugar, about 15 mins.) Test the mixture by feeling a small amount of the meringue between two fingers if it is grainy beat longer. Once the sugar is dissolved, use a rubber spatula to fold through vanilla and vinegar in a few, quick strokes.
- Spoon meringue into the springform cake ring and shape the uncooked meringue using the springform cake tin as a guide into one giant meringue. Make a slight indentation in the top, pushing the extra meringue towards the edges. You want it just slightly dished. This is where your lemon curd will go, so you want the edges higher, so it stays put in the middle. Carefully lift the springform cake pan ring straight up and remove. Place the uncooked meringue cake into the oven.
- IMMEDIATELY REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 210F.
- Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until dry and crisp, test by tasting a teaspoon of the meringue from the top if it doesn't taste of egg it is done don't worry about the small hole made by this testing it will be covered by the topping. Test at 1 1/2 hours and then every 15 mins until ready. Turn off oven and leave in oven to cool completely. (pavlova may sink and crack during cooling).
- To serve: (Put curd on meringue just before serving) Spoon cooled lemon curd on top of meringue and spread evenly in the indentation, leaving the outermost edges uncovered. Arrange some lemon slices around one side. Top with a scattering of fresh blueberries and some fresh mint leaves. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Would also be nice with a dollop of whipped cream.