Pavlova with Key Lime Curd & Berries
Today’s recipe is a delightful dessert, perfect for spring! Colorful, light, airy and sweet. Pavlova is a meringue based dessert, named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova. I had my first taste of pavlova at my husband’s boss’s place. It is the national dessert of Australia. Thankfully my husband’s boss’s wife is from Australia and introduced me to this dessert! I love the texture of pavlova, crisp and light on the outside and marshmallowy inside. Pavlova is usually paired with sweetened whipped cream and summer fruits. But sometimes the sweetness can be overwhelming, so I paired my pavlova with key lime curd instead of the cream. I just found some beautiful key limes at the store last week and have been waiting to use them in a recipe!! I loved the tartness of the lime curd against the sweetness of the meringue and the berries.
Pavlova is a very easy to make and is a perfect make ahead dessert. You can make the meringues up to 3 days in advance and store them covered at room temperature. The meringues are very very fragile and you should handle them gently. The lime curd can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. So this is a perfect, elegant dessert for entertaining. Just assemble at last minute, add some fresh berries and fruits on top and serve!!
For the Key Lime Curd (Martha Stewart’s recipe)
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2 large
Grated Key Lime Zest – 2 tsp
Key Lime juice – 1/4 cup (from 8-10 limes)
Unsalted butter (cold, cut into small cubes) – 4 Tbsp
Salt – a pinch
For the Pavlova meringues:
Egg Whites – 3 oz or from 3 large eggs
White Vinegar or Lemon/Lime juice – 2 tsp
Cornstarch – 1 Tbsp
Cream of Tartar – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Pure Vanilla extract – 3/4 tsp
Key Lime curd (recipe follows) or Sweetened Whipped Cream
Berries and other fruits (Strawberries, bluberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes, banana, blackberries are great!!)
For the Key Lime Curd:
- Combine sugar, eggs, lime zest, and juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan, and set over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken and holds the mark of the whisk, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, and whisk in butter, a piece at a time, until well combined. Strain mixture through a sieve into a glass bowl. Lay plastic directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill 3 hours or overnight to set the curd.
For the Pavlova:
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks and reserve the yolks for another recipe. It is best if you separate the eggs when they are cold. Then leave the egg whites on the counter for about 30 minutes. Egg whites attain maximum volume when they are at room temperature!
Tip: Egg whites are quite notorious and a lot of people are scared to use them. Its not that difficult, you just have to take a few precautions and you’ll be fine! The first one is letting the egg whites come to room temperature before whipping them up. The second one is to make sure that you use a clean and dry bowl. Even a little speck of dirt can spoil the volume and your egg whites won’t whip up at all.
- Preheat the oven to 250 F and line a large baking sheer with parchment paper. If you would like to make uniform looking pavlovas, you may also draw circles on the parchment so you can fill them easily. I like yo make single serve portions, but you can go ahead and make one large pavlova, whichever you like!
- Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl and keep aside.
- Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to a mixing bowl and start whipping using a stand mixer or the hand mixer on low speed. Mix for 1 minute and then increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks start to form, for about 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually add the sugar mixture to the bowl, while the mixer is running. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Then add in the vanilla and vinegar/lemon juice, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. The meringue should be shiny and not gritty to touch. Be careful about over-whipping, it will make the finished product very dry. Stop ad soon as you see the stiff peaks.
- Using a rubber spatula, spoon out the meringue on to the parchment lined baking sheet. Roughly smoothen the edges using the spatula, and try to form a small dip in the center, to hold the lime curd and the berries.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes (50 minutes for 4 small pavlovas and 60 minutes for one large pavlova). Once the pavlovas are done, do not take them out of the oven. The meringue shells break if they come in contact with cold air. So let the pavlovas cool completely in the oven before taking them out.
Tip: Don’t spread the meringues too thin. Make sure you have a height of at least 2-3 inches. Only then the insides will be soft and marshmallowy. If you spread them out too thin, the meringue will be too crispy.
- Top the pavlova with a few Tbsp of key lime curd and the fruits. Make sure you wash and towel dry the berries before using.
- The meringue might crack under the weight of lime curd and berries, don’t panic. The pavlova is supposed to look cracked!!