Petite Pavlovas with Lemon Cream and Fresh Fruit
- 4 large egg whites, 3 yolks (saved for the filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup champagne or brut sparkling wine
- 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 cup fresh fruit, sliced and pitted, if necessary
To Make the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace 4 evenly spaced 4-inch-diameter circles on each parchment sheet. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed about 2 minutes, until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheets using the traced circles as a guide. Use the back of a spoon to build up a 1-inch rim on each meringue round. Bake the meringues for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave them inside the closed oven for 1 hour longer, or overnight if that is more convienient. Well wrapped, the meringues will keep for 2 days at room temperature, or they can be frozen up to 3 weeks.
To Make the Filling: Whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and champagne in a large bowl set over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water. Cook about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Cut the butter into 4 pieces. Whisk the butter into the lemon mixture, one piece at a time. Cook about 10 minutes longer, whisking occasionally. The lemon filling will be thick and puddinglike. Cover the filling with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the curd, sealing it and leaving no air between the wrap and the filling. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, or for up to 3 days.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream in a large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled lemon filling. Spoon the lemon filling into the meringue shells and top with the fruit. Serve immediately.
Note: Here is another one of my emergency recipes: I prepare the components ahead and then throw them together at the last minute. These look impressive, and people will think you worked really hard to make them. If you're truly pressed for time, buy a jar of ready-made lemon curd and fold it into the whipped cream.
This is a terrific light dessert for spring or summer. Although it isn't exactly low-fat, it feels like it, making it a perfect choice for the reluctant dessert eater who resists throwing caution to the wind.