Light, marshmallowy meringues topped with a sweet coconut cream and tangy lemon and passionfruit curd finished with fresh strawberries. This dessert is a little twist on an classic Aussie pav and adds a little summer sunshine to your winter days.
I cannot believe it is now August, and our final month of winter. I live in Brisbane, so the Queensland version of winter is vastly different than many other places. We pop on a cardigan over our jeans and tshirt and then nod at each other saying yes it is cold this year.
The winter days are exactly what I would wish summer was like. Days can be as warm as 24, the humidity is low, and the breeze has a faint hint of coolness reminding you that when the sun goes down, so to does the warmth. The sky is bright blue and most often cloudless. The sun is warm against your skin, but it isn’t yet so harsh that it burns straight away. It is the perfect time to spend outdoors, because before we know it the extreme heat and humidity of summer will return and we will be barricaded inside with the air-conditioner.
So today I have a hybrid summer/winter dessert. I couldn’t help myself with all the beautiful winter produce and the abundance of winter season strawberries which are incredibly sweet this year. Along with with the passionfruit falling off their vines demanding to be eaten with nothing more than a spoon.
My mum gave me a big bag of fresh passionfruit from her vine and I instantly new that some of these were destined to be combined with some lemon to make a curd. I have done this once before for this passionfruit cake, and it is still one of my favourite things I have made. I use coconut oil instead of butter making it dairy-free but the smell of making this with the combination of the coconut, lemon and passionfruit will make your house smell like a tropical paradise.
When I made the curd originally, I used whole eggs as I HATE when you have to seperate the eggs and then the whites go to waste. For this recipe however, I knew I wanted to pair it with some mini pavlova meringues so I had a purpose for my egg whites. Making the curd with just egg yolks results in a richer flavour. You can use either recipe, but when making it with the meringues, this recipe ensures you do not have an egg white or yolk not needed.
Let’s talk pavlova for a second. A meringue base that is distinguished by its light, crisp and delicate exterior and soft pillowy marshmallow centre. It is the perfect combination of textures and just brings back childhood memories with each bite of dessert at Grandma’s.
The key to the meringue is to be patient and let them take their time. Bake it at a low temp and once done, let cool all the way in the oven. Don’t be tempted to take them out early, they will collapse. Be patient and you will be rewarded! These meringues don’t even need toppings, they are perfect on their own (which is actually how my husband prefers them), but when you start to top them with all the delicious things, that is when something special happens.
Another reason I think this is a winter recipe? Meringues and humidity just do not mix. Make sure all of your equipment is dry before beginning otherwise the egg whites will not form stiff peaks. Any moisture or heat around the meringues after they are cooked will cause them to weep, where the sugar starts to seep out and get a bit sticky which ruins the texture. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry area. I left some made ones in the fridge overnight and while they were still ok, I could see them starting to weep and any longer they would have just been too soft. I would definitely recommend eating them straight away or just making the meringues the day before you need them stored in an airtight container, then topping them just before serving.
Traditionally a pav would be topped with whipped cream. Being dairy-free, I have substituted that with a whipped sweetened coconut cream which just adds to the summery tropical vibes. Then instead of just scooping out the passionfruit pulp at putting it on top, which you could definitely do and it would still be amazing, I added a spoonful of the passionfruit and lemon curd and then finished it off with fresh strawberries. The photos only have a little strawberry on top as I thought they looked pretty but I did add more when I ate them because they were just so delicious and sweet. Topping options really are endless and entirely up to you with what is available and in season.
These mini pavs are perfect for those winter BBQs when the sun is warm and you have gathered a few friends around. If you are not planning to eat them straight away, as mentioned, just keep the meringues stored in a airtight container in a cool, dry place and they will be fine for up to 3 days.
Enjoy the final days of the winter sunshine.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon corn flour
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 4 egg yolks
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 2 lemons
- pulp of 2 passionfruit
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 can coconut milk , chilled in the fridge overnight
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- fresh fruit , such as strawberries or blueberries for topping.
- Make the pavlova meringues. Preheat oven to 180°C. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in caster sugar and vanilla and continue to beat for a few more minutes until the peaks reform and mixture feels stiff. Fold through cream of tartar and corn flour with a rubber spatula. Using a piping bag if you want, spread circles of the meringue mixture onto 2 trays lined with baking paper making sure there is a bit of a dip in the centre of each. How many meringues will depend on the size you want them, I got 15 about the size of my palm. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 100°C and bake for 40 minutes until the outside is firm and dry. Turn oven off and let meringues cool completely before removing.
- Make the passionfruit & lemon curd. Place all ingredients into a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Continually whisk together until mixture becomes thick. As soon as it starts to thicken, take off heat and continue to whisk for another few minutes. Set aside and let cool. Store any leftovers in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Make the whipped coconut cream. Remove the can of coconut milk from the fridge and scoop out the thick coconut cream that has separated from the water. Discard water (or use in a smoothie). In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted, beat the coconut cream until it starts to thicken. Slowly add in icing sugar a little at a time, and continue beating ensuring it is fully combined before adding in more. Add in vanilla, and continue whipping until it has thickened and peaks begin to form. Note that is take a lot longer for coconut cream to whip compared to regular cream so just keep going - it takes about 15 minutes for me which is why I recommend using a stand mixer.
- Assemble the mini pavlovas. Spoon some of the whipped coconut cream on top of the meringue base. Add a spoonful of the cooled passionfruit & lemon curd and top with fresh strawberries. Enjoy!
Note: If making ahead, keep all elements separate and assemble before eating. Meringues should be stored in a airtight container in a cool, dry place. Whipped coconut cream does not keep well and is best consumed the same day.
I couldn’t decide which pavlova meringue recipe to use as I don’t have my Grandma’s so in the end I used one published by Sally’s Baking Addiction as it seemed closest to what I remember it should be.
Alternate passionfruit & lemon curd recipe using whole eggs can be found in my passionfruit sponge cake recipe.