August 15, 2010

Pavlova with Blueberries & Lemon Cream


I hate to begin a post on a negative note, especially since my tag line says that this is a cheery place.  But this is going to end very positively so stay with me.  I abhor meringue -  the starchy, crunchy, chalky cookie kind.  Yuck.  It's the bone dry texture. It's the super sweetness of it.  I don't touch it.  So for quite a while, I lumped pavlova, with its meringue base, into this category and wrote it off.  What a mistake.

Eating pavlova is like eating a cloud.  It's a delicate, mildly sweet, barely crisp meringue crust that gives way to a moist, marshmallow-y center.  Topped with cream and berries, it is divine.  I don't often rave about desserts, or anything, like this.  It's the perfect dessert after a heavy meal, and it's gluten free

Suffice to say I've become a bit of a pavlova connoisseur.  And I can tell you that the trick to assembling a great pavlova is choosing the right toppings.  An ideal pavlova has a pristine white meringue base, a dollop or two of sweet cream, and toppings that juxtapose tart with sweet.  Combinations with pastry cream, strawberries and raspberries are common.  Another well known favorite is whipped cream, kiwi, passion fruit and strawberries.  The recipe below is more unique but certainly not more risky.  The tart lemon cream becomes a punchy backdrop for the mildly sweet meringue and fresh blueberries. 

Pavlovas with Blueberries & Lemon Cream
makes 6 servings

Ingredients

Meringues:
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Filling:
  • 2/3 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
  • 1 cup cream 
  • 3 cups blueberries

Make meringues (Can be made 1 day ahead.):
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 250°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in small bowl to blend; set aside. 

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl until soft peaks form. Beat in vanilla. 

Gradually beat in remaining 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add cornstarch mixture over meringue and beat until sift peaks form. 
Nice stiff peaks in the whipped meringue
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Spoon meringues into 6 mounds (about 1/4 cup each), spacing apart. Using back of spoon, make indentation in center of each mound, forming each meringue into 3-inch-diameter nest. 
Individual pavlovas avoid the need for cutting servings and make for a prettier final presentation.
Bake meringues until crisp and barely golden on outside but still soft on inside, about 55 minutes. Using metal spatula, transfer meringues to rack and cool completely.  Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.

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 wrap to prevent a skin from forming, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours. 

Assemble pavlovas:
Beat cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 cup beaten cream into the lemon curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd cream into meringue and mound blueberries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side. 

 Adapted from Bon Appetit and Gourmet

4 comments:

Rosie Tomato said...

I am not a big fan of meringue either, but this sounds (and looks) divine! Maybe Hubby will help me will the recipe since he is the better chef.

Hi, I'm Kelly said...

Thanks for the comment! You're going to love them, I know it. :D

Rachel said...

Look amazing. And fattening. :D

Kelly said...

Lol - Calorie free when eaten with friends!