Have you ever heard of a Pavlova before? It’s a light and airy meringue base cake topped with whipped cream and usually berries, but today I’m giving it a little twist by adding a lemon curd base under the whipped cream and some seasonal citrus!
The first time I heard of a pavlova was when I was watching Ina Garten prepare a fancy dinner for her friends in the Hamptons. Hers looked gorgeous but the thought of baking something for almost 2 hours was overwhelming. I wasn’t super into meringues at the time either, so it wasn’t something I ever thought to recreate…. Until our friend Christina brought her family’s specialty over to Christmas dinner for dessert. We were blown away! The light and delicate meringue base was crispy and airy yet marshmallowey at the same time, and topped with the whipped cream and sweet berries, it’s like a ballerina dancing on clouds. Actually I think the dessert was named after a ballerina named Anna Pavlova.
So here I am trying my hand at making one. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to whip up and how forgiving this dessert is too. The cracks in the shell are totally okay and part of the rustic look and you could basically top it with anything you’d like. Whenever I start with an egg white base to bake off in the oven, I shudder, going back to my crazy mad scientist macaron making days. Let’s just say I spent a good amount of a year trying to perfect it every night and not get cracked shells - it drove me insane and I forced my coworkers to eat the successful batch everytime I made it. I’m not sure if it was a curse or a blessing for them. Lol!
Like I said, I imagine you could top the pavlova with any fruit you’d like. Our neighbor just gave us a nice jar of pistachio butter and I think it would be interesting to try this again with it on the base, with whipped cream and raspberries. Maybe some lemon zest too. Ooh that sounds good - I’ll have to bring some over for them to try! Anwyays here is my recipe for the Easy Pavlova!
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
In a bowl, using a hand mixer or an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until frothy. Slowly add sugar until the egg whites turn glossy and develops stiff peaks. Add salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cornstarch and mix again to combine.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, transfer the egg whites and spread into a round disk. You can make this as big or as small as you’d like but I recommend making it medium size. It looks better (and you get more of that marshmallowey texture in the middle) if it’s at least 1 1/2 inches tall.
Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes. Once it’s done, turn off the oven and do not open it up for at least an hour. This will help prevent major cracking. You will still get some, but they’ll be minimal.
Once ready, carefully transfer meringue base to a plate. Top with warm lemon curd, whipped cream, and orange slices. Enjoy!