Betcha ya’ll are already set as far as your Valentine Day desserts huh? Well just in case you’re still mulling it over, look what I surprised my Valentine with: Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova: A meringue cookie topped with a dollop of whipped cream, a slick of tropical passion fruit curd (of course passionfruit! what other curd would be perfect for Valentine’s) and a handful of lovely fresh berries!
This dessert is a dream for anyone who loves food with texture. You’ve got the crispy crunch of the outer meringue, the pillowy chew of the marshmallow-like middle, the silky layer of fluffy whipped cream and passionfruit curd followed by the sweet tart addition of fresh berries. So elegant and absolutely delicious, these easily made treats are perfect for your Valentine’s day festivities.
The Husband, who conveniently also happens to be my Valentine, generally doesn’t like any chocolatey super sweet sugar bombs that seem to be all the rage for this holiday. Which is totally unlike me. That is exactly what I would want. Truth be told…in a the shape of a cupcake if all were going my way. Just saying…He, on the other hand, prefers fruit forward desserts such as this lovely Cashew Crusted Blackberry & Lime Tart:
Or these Luscious Lemon Squares,
And then there was that Poached Pear Tart with Lemony Cream.
One year, I was even clever enough to combine what he loves, a good Gin & Tonic, and what I love, cupcakes by making Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:
And last year, I was pretty sly with these Mimosa Butter Sweetheart Cookies. I really like cookies and was able to not only add some of his favorite jam into the mix with these, but was also able to get some champagne on deck. Always up for a glass of bubbles!
And just recently I did share a recipe for Cranberry Chiffon Pie which would be perfect for Valentine’s Day given its’ flirty pink hue.
But let me get back to the dessert of the day: Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova. This dessert is not as popular in the States as it is in Europe, much to my dismay. It seems that it hails from either Australia or New Zealand. No one is sure which country can claim it and has been a source of controversy between the two. It was named in the honor of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured the countries in the 1920s.
Pavlovas can be made in a 8 – 9″ cake size or as smaller individual serving sizes as I made here. I prefer the smaller sizes as you can keep the meringues in an airtight container and only pull them out to assemble right before you are ready to serve. They can not sit out for long though, so don’t assemble them until folks are ready to dig in.
The good news is that you can make the meringues the night before you need them and keep them under wraps until your fruit is sliced, the whipped cream is whipped and you are ready to assemble. One caveat – meringues do take a while to bake. With these you cook them at a low temperature for 3 hours and then turn the oven off and let the meringues just sit in there overnight. Then it is straight into an airtight container. But hey, Valentine’s Day isn’t until tomorrow. I bet you’ve got all the ingredients you need to whip these up today. Well, maybe not the passionfruit curd. But you could customize them to your own taste with a slick of your favorite curd or jam or leave that out altogether. They will still be scrumptious with just the luscious whipped cream and fruit. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova
- 6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup, 180 grams) at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) superfine sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, sifted after measuring
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
- Passion Fruit Curd, for topping
- 2 pints (500 grams) fresh berries, the original recipe used raspberries. I used blackberries, strawberries & blueberries
Preheat the oven to 175° F and place a rack ib the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed for about 1 minute. The whites will start to froth and turn into bubbles and eventually the yellowy viscous part will disappear. Keep whipping until you can see the wires of the whisk leaving a slight trail in the whites, 2 -3 minutes.
With the mixer still on medium, slowly add the superfine sugar in six to eight increments, whipping for about 20 seconds after each addition. ( It should take about 3 minutes to add all the sugar. When all the sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute longer. The meringue should be fluffy and look a bit like shaving cream. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold in the cornstarch, salt and vanilla. The meringue batter will be gloppy and sticky-looking.
Using a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, scoop 8 mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Use a large spoon to press a well into the center of each meringue mound, moving the spoon around in a circular motion to make a shallow depression in the meringue.
Bake for 3 hours, rotating the baking sheet a few times. Turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the oven overnight.
The next day, remove the meringues from the oven and carefully peel them off the parchment. (At this point the meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
When you are ready to serve, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with a whisk until it is soft and billowing. Do not over-whip or the cream will get grainy. It should look similar to the meringue when it was fully whipped.
Place each meringue on an individual serving plate or all together on a large serving platter. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the whipped cream into the center of each meringue. Make a depression in the cream, then spoon about 2 heaping Tablespoons of the passion fruit curd on the top of the cream. Crush some of the fresh berries and keep some whole and scatter evenly on top of the curd.
Passion fruit pavlovas should be served within 1 hour or so of assembling. (Once filled, the meringues get really soft after a few hours.)
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Passion Fruit & Fresh Berry Pavlova:
Pastry Love by Joanne Chang – LOVE this cookbook! Everything I have baked from it has been sensational! For this pavlova recipe, she actually gives you the recipe for homemade passion fruit curd. I sadly could not source any passionfruit, so turned to amazon to get a jar of it.