Few desserts are as pretty and as easy to make as a pavlova. For this one, we've combined the best elements of versions by Robyn Hedges and Pip Hoar, respectively, two New Zealand bakers featured in Dave Lieberman's homage to the dessert, "Light Fantastic" (August/September 2009). The key to a successful pavlova is patience: allow the meringue to cool completely before transferring it to the plate or cake stand. You'll prevent any crumbling that can occur when the process is rushed.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, and chilled
- 1⁄4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 8 egg whites, room-temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1⁄2 cup chilled plain yogurt
- Strawberries, halved
- Kiwifruit, peeled, and sliced
Make lemon curd: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1⁄2 cup of the sugar, 1 egg, and the juice and zest of the lemon; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in unsalted butter, letting each cube incorporate before adding the next. Strain curd through a fine sieve set over a small bowl; press plastic wrap against the surface of curd and refrigerate until well chilled.
Make meringue: Heat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat remaining 2 1⁄2 cups of sugar and egg whites on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Add cornstarch mixture to egg whites; continue beating until very stiff and glossy peaks form, about 5 more minutes.
Place a 9" round cake pan in the center of a 13" x 18" sheet of parchment paper and use a pencil to trace a circle around the outside of the pan. Flip the sheet of parchment paper and transfer it to a baking sheet so that the marked side is face down. Transfer meringue to the center of parchment paper.
Using a rubber spatula, shape it into a 9" disk by making the meringue conform to the circular outline; smooth top and sides with rubber spatula. Transfer meringue to the oven; reduce oven temperature to 215°; bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let meringue sit until cooled, 3-4 hours. Gently peel parchment paper from the meringue and, using 2 metal spatulas, transfer meringue to a cake stand.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat heavy cream and yogurt on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Pour the whipped cream mixture onto the cooled meringue and spread evenly over meringue's top using a rubber spatula.
Decorate the top of the pavlova with strawberries and kiwifruit. Remove the reserved lemon curd from the refrigerator and stir vigorously; drizzle the curd over the pavlova, reserving a few tablespoons for individual servings. Cut the pavlova into slices and serve immediately with lemon curd.