Food

Make mini pavlovas with lemon curd and fresh fruit for the sweetest finale to your Passover Seder

The balance of sweet meringue and tart toppings makes these airy delights the ultimate unleavened dessert.

The balance of sweet meringue and tart toppings makes these airy delights the ultimate unleavened dessert

Spring is typically the time when we trade in our decadent, doughy desserts for lighter, fruit-laden fare — especially following extravagant feasts like the kind served at Passover and Easter. And while these personal-size pavlovas are ideal finales to either occasion, they’re especially perfect for Pesach. Unlike most baked goods, which are considered chametz, i.e. forbidden during the Jewish holiday, these airy delights are leaven-free. They’re also topped with fresh berries and tangy lemon curd, bringing a burst of sweetness that’s juuuust right for the end of a big meal.       

Passover Pavlovas

Ingredients

Berry topping:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp basil chiffonade leaves

Meringues:

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Lemon curd:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of two lemons
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries, blackberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Stir to combine, cover and place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 225F degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Place the room temperature egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high, gradually adding the white sugar and making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so no sugar granules are left on the edges. Beat the egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes until stiff peaks form and the meringue looks glossy and smooth.

Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Once fully incorporated, add the cornstarch and gently fold. It is important to not over mix and to avoid beating the air out of the egg whites. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the meringue into 8 x 3-inch circles creating the bases. Pipe a second layer of meringue on top of the bases; it should resemble a nest with a small hole in the middle. Carefully transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. This will result in a meringue that is crispy on the outside, but still soft and marshmallow-y inside.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and set aside. In a small heavy bottomed pot add the white sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Heat on medium-low until the sugar is completely dissolved — stir only occasionally and do not let the pot reach a boil, just a gentle bubble. Add the butter to the pot and melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly add a tiny amount of the hot liquid to the egg yolks making sure to whisk constantly. (This is called tempering and only a small amount of heated liquid is added at a time, to prevent the eggs from scrambling.) Continue to slowly add the liquid to the egg yolks while continuously whisking until everything is combined and smooth. Then pour the mixture back into the pot and cook on low-medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure it does not stick to the bottom, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. It’s thick enough when a line appears when a  finger is run along the back of the spoon; if the line disappears, the lemon curd is still too thin and you should continue cooking it. Once the desired thickness is reached, strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface of the curd until you are ready to use it, to prevent a hard layer from forming on top.

Ensure that the meringues have cooled completely before topping them.To assemble your pavlovas, place a meringue onto a small plate, fill the center with lemon curd and top with a spoonful of the berry and basil mixture. Serve any additional lemon curd or berries on the side; you can also serve these with fresh whipped cream.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

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