From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is one of my favorite seasonal desserts and I make it several times each summer. Pavlova is a light meringue dessert that is usually topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. This airy dish was named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian prima ballerina who toured Australia and New Zealand in the late 1920's. The dessert was created in her honor and I'm told it is still wildly popular in those countries. A well-made Pavlova has a crackly crisp crust and a soft marshmallow interior that makes it a perfect base to hold a creamy filling and seasonally fresh fruit. The version I'm featuring today is based on a recipe that first appeared in Gourmet magazine. It differs slightly from more classical preparations in that it uses lemon curd to fill the shell on which the berries rest. The combination of sweet and tart is irresistibly delicious, but because this is a meringue dessert, some care must be taken when assembling it. The eggs should be at room temperature if you want to achieve maximum volume and the meringue should be baked at a low temperature to achieve a light crust, while still retaining a soft marshmallow interior. The meringue should dry in the oven and as it does, it will crack. The shell is very fragile, and while the recipe developers say it can be frozen, I wouldn't count on being able to do that. That crackly crisp crust also crumbles. The tartness of the lemon curd is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the berries and meringue shell and the yin and yang nature of this dessert is close to perfect. The only caution I have to share with you regards the appearance of the Pavlova. In my kitchen, anyway, it is unpredictable and can range from stunning to something best described as a hot mess. I live in a generally damp climate that probably explains the variance, but the inconsistency prevents me from telling you that this dessert makes my socks go up and down. It is, however, really, really, really good and I know you will love its play of flavors. This deserves to be tried. Here's the recipe.
Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Mixed Berries ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gourmet Magazine
Meringue1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Lemon Curd2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Topping1-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided use
4 cups mixed berries
1) To make meringue: Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 300 degrees F. Trace a 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.Whisk superfine sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer). Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the "crater" is for curd and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (inside will still be marshmallow-like). Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.
2) To make lemon curd: While meringue bakes, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not let boil). Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.
3) To assemble: Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/2 cup beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.
•For best results, keep oven door closed as much as possible during baking.
•Meringue can be made 2 days ahead and frozen, wrapped well in plastic. Thaw before serving.
•Curd can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
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