7.10.09 The Incredible Lightness of Being

Pavlova 790 xxx
The first time I had a Pavlova was long ago at JoJo, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s jewel box of a restaurant in an Upper East Side townhouse. That might even have been the original source for his now-classic (and copied into ubiquity) molten chocolate cake. But it was the Pavolva in all its crunchy creaminess that captured my heart. This ethereal meringue dessert was allegedly created as a tribute to the ballerina Anna Pavlova on her 1926 tour to New Zealand and in fact it’s wonderfully light—and relatively low in calories. Balthazar does a nice one with mixed berries. A Pavlova is fancy enough to impress guests and quite easy to whip up. The version below, from Gourmet magazine, is served with lemon curd.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries

serves 6-8
  • — 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • — 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • — 3 egg whites from large eggs
  • — 3 tablespoons cold water
  • — 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • CURD
  • — 2/3 cup organic cane 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
  • — 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • — 1 cup heavy cream
  • — 4 cups mixed berries

Preheat oven to 300ºF with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.

Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch 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 Tbsp 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.


Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-qt 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.


Beat heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks, then mix in 1/4 cup crème fraîche. Spoon lemon curd onto meringue, dollop with whipped cream and mound the berries over the 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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1 Comment

Bored at my Mom's house this past Spring, I spotted the stack of Gourmet's (which I then stole for my magazine library)... with a guilty heart (she's a type 2 diabetic), I whipped up this very Pavlova, as it was the only recipe in the mag for which Mom's kitchen had all of the ingredients (and it looked amazing). It was amazing. Mom appreciated the indulgence. I conveniently reminded myself that the berries' antioxidants might counter the sugar that feeds her dementia. UGH! I'm a horrible daughter.
Joc on December 24, 2009 at 4:38 am —