I grew up eating a lot of fruit and not much dessert at all. I think that's why I bake so much now, as a rebellion against my youth. Growing up Vietnamese, we had a strange sensibility when it came to sweets. When there was a special occasion, my mom would sweeten a pot of black beans with sugar and ginger or some kind of soybean concoction suspended in goo. Not exactly what a little kid wants when their friends were eating Funfetti birthday cake. Any other regular day, our dinners were usually finished off with a crisp slice of pear or a sweet orange slice. My mom has an innate gift of finding the best tasting produce still to this day.
So this is why this is my idea of dessert perfection! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy decadent chocolate desserts but airy light desserts with fresh fruit will always reign supreme in my book. The bright berries piled high atop luscious whipped cream, with a buttery ribbon of lemon curd running through it, all on top of a crisp sweet meringue disk with a marshmallowy center, is a no brainer.
The Pavlova originated in either Australia or New Zealand (they're still arguing about it today) and was named after a Russian ballet dancer named Anna Pavlova . The meringue and cream are supposed to resemble the layers of her tutu. It's traditionally served with any sort of soft fruit (passion fruit, kiwis, berries, and pomegranates).
- 4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pint heavy cream
2 cups of mixed fresh berries
scant cup of prepared lemon curd (store bought or home made)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper (I used a pot lid). Flip over onto your baking sheet, you don't want to eat graphite!
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. It should be able to hold it's shape like pictured above.
Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch until thoroughly blended. Be careful not to deflate the egg whites.
Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building edge slightly. This should leave a slight depression in the center.
Bake for 1 hour. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the lemon curd. Leave ribbons of the yellow curd streaking in your whipped cream for prettiness like below!
Remove the paper and set on a flat serving surface. Top with cream mixture and then heap on the berries. Serve immediately.
You can make the meringue up to 3 days ahead of time. Just seal in an airtight container and make your toppings day of.
It tastes like eating a sweet fruity cloud if that makes any sense. Also, check out my adorable cake toppers. A tutorial for making these bad boys is coming soon!