This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting one of my old college friends in my old college town. It feels strange to be back here, as if I have changed so much, yet this place remains the same. It’s wonderful seeing my friend, though; I love that we can stay such close friends after spending so much time drifting time apart as we find ourselves. We rediscovered how much we have in common and just had an amazing time reconnecting. Those are the true friends and they should be treasured. These friends are few and far between, and I am so happy to have her in my life.
Because it’s Sunday, and I’m feeling so content from this weekend, I decided to make a lovely dessert to match. In addition, Kenny is out of town, so I’m feeling a little lonely at home… and what better way to keep busy than have a beautiful dessert to look forward to?! I’ve been wanting to try out pavlovas for awhile, and to be honest this Australian dessert frightened me a little bit. I have never messed with meringue… and I knew that it had to be done. How much fun to put yourself up for a challenge, to step outside of your comfort zone. And even more fun when it turns out as brilliantly as this!
If you’re thinking these Pavlovas are super swanky, you’re pretty much right. They are gorgeous and airy and simply to die for. You will be SO happy you made them, as will anyone you share them with! Plus, there is very little hands on time. The curd needs to be made the day before and allowed to thicken in the fridge. The pavlovas need to be made a few hours before eating them, as they needs to cook and then dry out completely in the oven before serving. That being said, it really is quite simple to make. There’s probably 30 minutes of work time involved! That’s what I’m all about… very impressive desserts that does not cost me an entire day. Effortlessly elegant.
Because I’ve never made pavlovas before, I decided to do some research. The Kitchn has a lovely tutorial on how to make pavlovas. There’s a great video in that tutorial where you can see the stages of egg whites whipping and read about how to properly prepare the meringue.
I chose Cara Cara oranges because they are lower in acid than other oranges so they taste sweeter. Because the rind is mixed in with the sugar, it adds a little bit of bitterness which is a great contrast with the sweet juice of the orange and the fresh strawberries. A great use of seasonal ingredients if I do say so myself! This is light and fresh recipe I look forward to repeating soon!
Strawberry Pavlovas & Cara Cara Orange CurdPrint Recipe
- 4 egg whites
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Zest of two Cara Cara oranges, see instructions below
- A pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed Cara Cara orange juice
- 1 pint strawberries, chopped
The night before, prepare the orange curd. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thin strips of the orange zest off of the oranges, being careful to avoid the white pith. Place the strips of zest in the food processor along with the 1 cup sugar and salt. Process until completely combined into a powder.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and beat until light colored. Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping the edges as needed. Add the orange juice and mix to combine.
Place the whole mixture in a sauce pot over low heat. You do not want to heat it too quickly, as the mixture may curdle. Over low heat, stirring constantly, heat the curd for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it reaches 175°F. Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature before covering it with saran wrap and placing it in the fridge overnight. This allows the curd to thicken.
At least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pavlova, prepare the meringue. Make sure your bowl and whisk attachment is clean with no excess fat on it. Place the egg whites in the bowl and whip over low speed for a few minutes until it begins to froth. Increase the speed slowly to medium until soft peaks began to form. When soft peaks begin to form, add 3/4 cup sugar a couple shakes at a time, increasing the speed after each addition.
After all your sugar is added, you should be at the highest speed. Whip your egg whites until hard peaks form. They should be opaque and shiny, and hold their form when scoop with a spoon and held upside down.
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Using a wine glass or other round glass, trace eight small circles onto the paper as guides for your pavlovas. Turn the paper over, and, using a spatula, spoon the egg whites into each circle. Use your spatula to form the pavlova, smoothing the edges, and, if desired, making a concave top on which to hold the curd.
Place the meringue in the oven on the lower third of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 250°F. Bake the pavlova 50 to 60 minutes, or until it is hard to the touch and edges are slightly brown.
After the pavlovas are done, turn the oven off. Leave it open, and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven completely. This might take upwards of one hour.
Once you plan to serve the pavlova, pour the curd on the top and finish with fresh chopped strawberries (mixed with 1 tbsp sugar). They need to be eaten with in the hour otherwise they will be soggy. Enjoy!
Once the pavlova are cool, they can be stored an air tight tight container for 3 to 4 days.