Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was the inspiration for this showstopper of a dessert. And it made such an impression that it sparked a debate between Australia and New Zealand, both of which tried to claim it as the brainchild of their citizens.
This particular pavlova recipe is unique in that it has all the textures you want in one dessert: It is crunchy thanks to the meringue, creamy thanks to a sprightly lime curd, and popping with freshness thanks to a bevy of fresh berries. It also boasts a good bit of lemon juice spun right into the meringue base, lending an ethereal bite to each bite.
When you serve it, allow it to be a little messy. Ivory and golden and ruby and blue at once, it is gorgeous in its unruly natural state.
Pavlova with Lime Curd & Berries
4 egg whites
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 g.) lime curd (recipe below)
3 cups (12 oz./375 g.) mixed berries
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Draw a 9-inch (23-cm.) circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over and place on a baking sheet.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites until well mixed. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the whites and continue to beat until the whites are white and foamy. Raise the speed to high and very gradually add the sugar, beating until stiff, shiny peaks form. Quickly beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment, building up the edges slightly to form a rim.
Bake until the meringue is crispy, about 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door. When the meringue is completely cool, remove it from the oven. Remove the meringue from the parchment paper and place on a serving plate.
Using the electric mixer, chilled clean beaters, and a chilled bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Spread the curd in the hollow of the meringue. Top with half of the whipped cream and sprinkle with the berries. Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the center of the meringue slightly. Cut into wedges and serve, passing the remaining whipped cream at the table. Serves 6-8.
4 or 5 limes
1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g.) plus 2 Tbs. butter, cut into small cubes
Finely grate the zest from 3 of the limes. Cut the limes in half and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.), using the additional limes if necessary.
In a nonreactive heatproof bowl set over (not touching) simmering water, whisk together the sugar, eggs and lime zest and juice. While stirring constantly, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, letting the cubes melt before adding more and scraping the bottom of the bowl each time. Cook, whisking, just until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10-15 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.
Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 half-pint (8-fl. oz./250-ml.) jars.