In preparing for Easter lunch this coming weekend I wanted to make a dessert that was light and fresh and beautiful. These coconut pavlovas with tart lemon curd and fresh raspberries will fit the bill perfectly.
A good friend made pavlovas for Easter a few years ago and they were not only delicious but beautiful. When served individually, they’re an extra special dessert for your guests. Pavlovas might sound fancy, but they are just baked meringue layers. Topping them with lemon curd and berries makes them completely lovely. You can use the recipe below for lemon curd, or buy lemon curd at your grocery store. I love the combination of raspberries with the coconut and lemon, but blueberries, strawberries or blackberries would be nice. And in fact, pineapple might be amazing…
You can make the lemon curd and the meringue a day in advance. This will free you up on the day of your lunch or dinner to tend to everything else you have to do. But this also means that if you’re bringing these somewhere you don’t have to worry about them in transit. Bring everything in separate containers and assemble right before serving. No balancing cake plates in your lap and getting mad at the driver for taking those corners too quickly!
If you’re not a fan of coconut, then you can leave it out and make plain meringues. You could also add nuts, pulsed well in a food processor, in place of the coconut to create a different flavor. The coconut adds a texture you won’t find in a plain meringue, which I found to be really nice against the smooth and creamy lemon curd.
These are gluten free, not because I did anything to make them that way but because the ingredients are all gluten-free friendly. It’s nice to serve something like this when serving a group that may contain some people who do not or cannot eat gluten. Since it’s becoming more and more common, at least in my experience, to encounter those people, it’s great to have some recipes that don’t leave anyone out or make it hard for them to enjoy the meal. Any gluten-free readers who see something wrong with the recipe below, please let me know so that I can correct it. Enjoy!
1/4 cup creme fraiche OR 1/4 cup whipping cream + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 9 chunks
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
fresh raspberries for serving
Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk together over medium low heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook and whisk until mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche or cream mixture all at once. Add in the butter, 3 chunks at a time, and stir to almost melt them before adding the next few pieces. Stir until all the butter is melted.
Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pieces of cooked egg.
Let cool at room temperature for about an hour, then cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface so that a skin does not form, then refrigerate until cold or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Find a cup, bowl or glass that will serve at your guide for piping the meringue. It should be small enough to fit 6 circles on the cookie sheet with enough space for them to spread a bit. Trace the circle with a pencil on one side of the parchment, turn the parchment over on the cookie sheet and set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and the vanilla on high speed until mixture is very foamy.
Add the sugar in a steady stream, and continue to beat on high until mixture is very thick.
Fold in the cornstarch, vinegar and coconut.
Transfer meringue to a large ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and pipe circles onto the parchment paper. With the back of a spoon smooth out the circles and make a crater in the center of each.
Put pan into the oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and cook for 45 minutes.
Remove from the sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.
If not using right away, store in an airtight container.
Assemble the Pavlovas
Divide the lemon curd evenly among the meringue circles.
Place a few raspberries on top of the lemon curd, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Happy Spring! I know that spring has not sprung for some people, but it certainly has here in Houston. I wore a sleeveless dress and sat outside with my kids at 6 in the evening enjoying the warm breeze and the last of the sunlight. Now, if only it would stay just like this through August…
These pudding cakes are a perfect spring dessert. The flavor of the meyer lemon is fresh, tangy and sweet. The texture of the cake is light and fluffy. And the pudding layer is creamy without being the least bit heavy. I was going to just have two bites of one of these this afternoon but ended up eating almost the entire thing. I just couldn’t stop.
I’d never made pudding cakes before today, and if you haven’t either you should really try them. During baking the cake forms a top cake layer and a bottom layer of pudding-like goodness. When inverted you get one of the most beautiful desserts that requires very little hard labor. I adore desserts that look more impressive than they actually are!
I made these in individual dishes since that suits us best, being able to eat one at a time. But you can bake this in a 2 quart dish to serve to a group. They are, however, incredibly lovely and impressive when served individually. And, I have to say it again, they’re not difficult! I don’t know why it took me so long to embrace the single serving dessert! While it does mean more dishes in the end, it’s really special to get your own little serving, don’t you think?
If you do make these in ramekins, be sure to grease them well before filling with the batter. After baking, let them cool for about an hour, run a knife around the edge, place a plate on top of the ramekin and flip it over. You may need to wiggle it just a little bit to get it to come out. This is easiest when the puddings are at room temperature. I tried to do it later in the day with one that had been in the fridge for a few hours and it didn’t come out nearly as cleanly. If you do make these ahead of time, let them come to room temperature before flipping.
If you don’t want to invert these little babies, you can serve them in the ramekins and they’re just as lovely. Top with a little whipped cream and lemon zest.
zest of 2 meyer (or regular) lemons + extra zest for garnish
1/4 cup meyer (or regular) lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
whipped cream for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2 quart baking dish or 6 6-ounce ramekins.
In a medium sized bowl beat egg whites to stiff peaks, set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and add egg yolks, beating to combine.
With mixer on low, add the flour and salt, lemon juice, then the milk. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Fold in egg whites with a rubber spatula until egg whites are incorporated but still visible. The batter will look a little strange and lumpy, this is normal!
Pour into prepared pan or ladle into ramekins.
Place pan or ramekins into a large baking dish, fill with boiling water halfway up the sides on the dish then put in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes if baking in a large dish, 25-35 minutes in individual dishes. Puddings are done when the top is golden and the center springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Take dish or dishes out of the water bath and let cool on wire racks, about 1 1/2 hours. At this point serve the puddings or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before inverting onto the plate. Garnish with lemon zest and whipped cream.
These lovely desserts were the finale to our Easter meal this past weekend. I did not make them and cannot take any credit for their deliciousness. My friend Jackie found the recipe in Cooking Light and offered to bring them. They were the perfect end to the meal.
The meringues were light and crunchy, the lemon curd and raspberries were perfect partners; tart and sweet, and the pistachios added such a wonderful richness to the whole dessert. To top it all off, they were beautiful. This is an impressive looking dessert, and Jackie said that it wasn’t all that complicated or tedious. She even let the meringues sit in the oven overnight and they were still perfect.
Making individual dessert can sometimes me a pain, but these are incredibly easy to assemble. I will definitely be putting this recipe away to make another time. Thanks, Jackie!