Pavlova is one of my favorite desserts, and it never fails to impress. This version is a variation of a recipe I did years ago for a book called The Cake Book. The first bite offers a crisp meringue shell that dissolves into a creamy, bright lime filling, followed by tart berries coated with a lightly sweetened syrup. All three components meld into a perfectly balanced dessert that is an ideal ending to a summer (or anytime-of-the-year) dinner. The meringues can be made up to five days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Assemble the dessert no more than an hour or two before serving.
Makes 6 individual desserts
- 4 large (120 grams) egg whites, at room temperature (save yolks for Lime Cream)
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- 4 large (74 grams) egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (94 grams) freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- 3/4 cup (174 grams) heavy cream
- 1 cup (113 grams) rinsed, hulled and sliced strawberries
- 1 cup (113 grams) fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
- Finely chopped pistachios
Make the meringues:
- Position two racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200˚F (or at 175˚F in a convection oven). On a piece of parchment paper, draw six 3½-inch circles, spacing them evenly. Turn the paper upside down and place it on a baking sheet.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and increase the speed to high. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and sift the cornstarch over the meringue. Add the vanilla extract and then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold both into the meringue. Scrape the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #8 open star tip. Pipe the meringue, from the center out, into the circles on the sheet, then pipe an extra layer of meringue around the perimeter of each circle. Bake the meringues for about an hour, or until they are just dry and firm on the outside (but still soft in the center). Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for 2 hours. Once cool, store the meringues in an airtight container in a dry place for up to 4 days.
Begin to make the Lime Cream:
- Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium, heavy, non-reactive saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the lime juice and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns opaque and thickens enough to leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw your finger across it. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula. Stir in the lime zest.
- Set the bowl containing the lime mixture in a large mixing bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the lime mixture). Stir the lime mixture frequently until it is slightly cooler than room temperature, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the berries.
Prepare the red berries:
- Put the sliced strawberries and raspberries in a medium bowl and toss with the sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Finish the Lime Cream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream at high speed until medium-firm peaks form. Fold a large spoonful of the whipped cream into the lime base to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining cream.
- Assemble the pavlovas just before serving. Spoon or pipe a generous dollop of the Lime Cream in the center of each meringue. Top with some of the berries, then garnish with the chopped pistachios and some fresh mint. Serve immediately.