For the last several months, Jason and I have had the privilege of participating in Dinner for Eight through our church. The idea behind Dinner for Eight is for eight[ish] church members (we have nine) to get to know each other over a meal, meeting four times in a six-moth period. Though Jason and I had toyed with the idea of signing up, it was actually an informal invitation from Lola that lured us in. Lola and her husband, Mike, were hosting the first Dinner for Eight in their group and asked us if we'd like to give it a try. We joined them for an excellent homemade dinner and were thrilled when we were invited to formally join their group. Meeting new people over food is exactly my forte so it has worked out wonderfully!
As our turn to host approached, I began looking for a way to "winterize" pavlova. Pavlova, as you may know from my previous post here, is dish I know and love because of my Australian family. Very few people here in the States would recognize pavlova if they saw it, which is unfortunate as it is quite tasty. So what is pavlova, exactly, you ask?
Pavlova is usually comprised of three parts: A meringue-like base, a mound of whipped cream in the middle, and a topping of fresh fruit (mostly of the summer variety). Unlike a traditional meringue, the base of a pavlova is crispy on the outside while its center is almost marshmallow-like. The end-product is a dish that literally melts in your mouth.
So for the last several weeks I've been trying to figure out how I can make it without using fruit that is out of season. I found a recipe that added a layer of lemon curd between the meringue-like base and the whipped cream, though still using a topping of fresh blueberries. I didn't want to use the berries, but thought the addition of the lemon curd was ingenious! Instead of the berries, I toasted a generous portion of coconut and sprinkled it on top.
Another idea I may try in the future (courtesy of my brilliant mother) is to make an orange curd and top the whipped cream with candied cranberries. Pomegranates as a topping may also be in my future pavlova-making repertoire.
Toasted Coconut + Lemon Curd Pavlova
Preheat oven 300º
In a large electric mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix on low for thirty seconds so that all ingredients are combined.
1/4 cup boiling water
Mix on high for several minutes until stiff peaks form.
Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour meringue on cookie sheet and use spatula to make an 8" circle. (The meringue will be pretty tall at this point; it will fall while baking). Once the circle is formed, use spatula to make the edge of the meringue a bit higher than the middle.
Bake for 50 minutes (meringue should be golden brown). Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to prop open the oven door. Let sit in warm oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap and place in a dry place.
In a medium bowl, place:
5 egg yolks
Use a fork to break up the yolks. Set aside for a moment.
In a medium saucepan, combine over medium heat:
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
scant 1/2 cup lemon juice
Whisk together and bring to a simmer. Whisk constantly for a minute or two so that all of the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to medium low. Remove 1/2 cup of the lemon mixture and whisk into the bowl of egg yolks.* Once combined, pour the egg yolks into the saucepan and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about two minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in:
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Pour curd into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic directly on the surface of the lemon curd (this prevents a rind from forming). Let cool completely before assembling.
*This is called tempering, which means that you are introducing the yolks to heat gradually. If you were to just plop them into the lemon juice, you'll end up with hard-boiled yolks.
In an electric mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine the ingredients. Increase speed to high and whip several minutes until stiff peaks form.
1. Transfer the meringue to a serving platter.
2. Use a spatula to spread the lemon curd over the center of the meringue (if the curd has been in the refrigerator, microwave it for about 30 seconds so it is more malleable).
3. Spread whipped cream over the lemon curd.
4. Top with 1 cup toasted coconut.