Lately, each Wednesday, my mother, sister, grandmothers, aunt and I have gathered together at one or another’s home for what we like to call “project night.” Its an evening where we come together and work on whatever crafty project we want. My aunt and grandmother crochet, my sister scrapbooks, my mother cross stitches, and I continue hand quilting a Christmas tree skirt that I have been working on for four years. This gathering is so comfortable, so familiar.
When I was little, project night occurred each week during the fall and winter months without fail. Back then I used to latch hook or make endless little loomed pot holders. When I was little, my favorite part was snack time. Now I am in charge of bringing the sweets each week. My mother loves pavlovas with lemon filling and so since it was an unseemly 90 degrees out this past September Wednesday, I made a treat that still tastes like summer.
What are pavlovas?
Pavlovas are a dessert that originated in New Zealand (or possibly Australia-there seems to be some controversy there). Pavlovas were named for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
They are fluffy meringue that is cooked low and long to make a crispy outside and a marshmallowy inside. Once cooled, they are then piled high with fruit and whipped cream. They are frequently made quite big, more like a birthday cake, but I like the individual nature of these mini pavlovas better.
Meringue for Pavlovas adapted from the Joy of Cooking
- 8 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tarter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees. If using a stand mixer, fit with whisk attachment. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Beat the egg whites and cream of tarter together until foamy.
- One tablespoon at a time, add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. This will take several minutes. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
- Plop tablespoonfuls of meringue onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. With the back of the spoon, create a dent in the middle (this is where the lemon cream will go).
- Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Fill with lemon cream right before serving. The lemon cream will dissolve the meringue so these cannot be filled ahead of time. Store in an airtight container. Do not store in the refrigerator or freezer, the moisture will soften them.
Lemon Cream Filling
- 8 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup of lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon butter at room temperature
- 5-6 drops lemon oil or 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Put egg yolks and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Mix together. Add lemon juice.
- Put over medium heat and stir constantly. Do not allow to boil or the egg will curdle.
- When the mixture thickens such that it coats the back of the spoon, remove from heat and add butter and lemon oil.
- Strain if necessary (if there are little chunks in the curd) into a large bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the curd and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- If using a stand mixer, fit with whisk attachment. Beat heavy cream until medium peaks form. Fold lemon curd into the cream using a rubber spatula.