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Lemon Pavlova

January/February 2011

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This show-stopping dessert is a New Zealand (and Australian) classic reportedly created in honor of the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited the Southern Hemisphere. Our version delivers a wonderful combination of sweet meringue crunch and velvety tart lemon curd. The meringue is somewhat fragile—expect it to crack and crumble a bit as you slice it into individual servings. For the best results, avoid making the meringue on a humid or rainy day. The extra moisture in the air may prevent it from drying and crisping properly.


Lemon Pavlova

Makes: 8 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

Lemon Curd

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Meringue

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature (see Tips)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (see Note)

Topping

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Preparation

  1. To prepare lemon curd: Whisk whole egg, 2 egg whites, granulated sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan (see Tips). Add butter and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough that drawing your finger across a coated spoon leaves a mark, 5 to 12 minutes. Do not let the sauce come to a simmer. Pour the hot curd through a fine-meshed sieve into a small bowl, pressing on the solids. Let cool slightly and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
  2. To prepare meringue: Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch circle with a pencil in the center of the paper to use as a guide for your pavlova, then turn the paper over so it’s pencil-side down.
  3. Beat 4 egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase the mixer speed to high and gradually beat in superfine sugar. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. (See Tips.)
  4. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the meringue into a 9-inch circle (using the guide) on the parchment. Smooth and level the center and make the edges slightly higher so there is a shallow depression in the middle. (It does not have to be completely smooth.) Bake the meringue for 1 hour.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 200° and continue baking for 1 hour more. The meringue should feel firm when gently touched.
  6. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringue sit in the oven until cool, about 1 hour. (As it cools, the exterior will crack in spots.)
  7. To prepare topping: Just before serving, whip cream in a small bowl with an electric mixer until starting to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form.
  8. To assemble pavlova: Use a large spatula or chef’s knife to carefully separate the meringue from the parchment and slide it onto a large flat serving platter. Fill the center depression with the lemon curd and pile the whipped cream in the center of the curd. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife. Serve immediately.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the lemon curd for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before assembling the pavlova. The cooled meringue can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) for up to 1 day.
  • Tips: To bring an egg to room temperature, submerge it (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.
  • A nonreactive bowl, pan or baking dish—stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart off colors and/or flavors.
  • When egg whites are beaten to “soft” peaks, the whites will still be soft enough to curl over when a beater is turned upside down. The whites are considered “stiff” peaks when they remain stiff and upright.
  • Note: Superfine sugar is sugar that dissolves instantly. It is available in the baking section of most supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, process regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until ground very fine.

Nutrition

Per serving: 256 calories; 7 g fat (4 g sat, 2 g mono); 47 mg cholesterol; 47 g carbohydrates; 45 g added sugars; 4 g protein; 0 g fiber; 74 mg sodium; 106 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (17% daily value).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 3 carbohydrate (other)


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