Citrus season is coming to an end, so, you already know, I had to squeeze in one more recipe before it’s officially over. I love pavlova for many reasons, but something I’ve always found interesting about it is how you apply the same mixing method (whisking) to two different mixtures (egg and cream) and it results in two totally different textures. The meringue is crunchy on the outside, with a soft-yet-chewy inside (it’s basically a gigantic fancy marshmallow), and the whipped cream is pillowy soft and, of course, creamy! This is also a go-to dessert for me because of how versatile it is; one you have the meringue layers baked and the whipped cream, you can top them with anything you have on hand, or anything in season. Pavlova’s country of origin may be up for debate between Australia and New Zealand, but one thing we all agree on is that it’s a truly delicious dessert!
After the meringue, the grapefruit curd is the real star of the show. It’s the perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and bitter, and its cuts through the sweetness of the other ingredients beautifully. A bite with each element is a complete journey in textures: crisp meringue, soft whipped cream, tangy curd, and a burst of fresh fruit. The one thing to remember about pavlova is that it should be eaten immediately, but to be honest, I’ve never had leftovers when I’ve served this for friends, so that shouldn’t be a problem! You might have some grapefruit curd leftover, but it keeps extremely well, and is delicious on top of everything from yogurt to just about any baked good in your house. I’ve also heard a spoonful straight from the bowl is insanely delicious, but I’ll let you test that out for yourself!
Citrus Pavlova with Grapefruit Curd
For the Meringue
- 8 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 cups superfine sugar (See "Eitan's Quick Bite" for how to make your own!)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Grapefruit Curd
- 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ grapefruit, zested and juiced
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 blood orange, zested then cut into supremes
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and sliced in wheels
- Fresh mint, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Using a pencil and an 8 inch plate or pan as a guide, trace two circles on a sheet of parchment paper, then line a sheet tray with it, ink side down. Circle should still be visible through the parchment paper.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl and a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add in sugar, a ¼ cup at a time, until firm, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. The mixture should be smooth and shiny, and sugar should be fully dissolved. Rub a small amount between two fingers to check for graininess if unsure. Sprinkle cornstarch, vanilla extract and cream of tartar over egg whites and use a rubber spatula to very gently fold in until just combined.
- Gently scoop the mixture into the middle of the circles on prepared pan, dividing evenly between the two. Use the back of a large, clean spoon to gently spread the mixture out to the edges of the circles, and add swoops and swirls to the top. This will create wells for the toppings after it’s baked.
- Bake until pavlova looks dry and is firm to the touch, 60 to 90 minutes depending on oven variance and humidity of the kitchen. The surface may look lightly golden or cracked, but should not brown. Minimize the number of times the oven is opened, since variance in temperature can make the pavlova deflate.
- While the pavlova is baking, make the grapefruit curd. Set up a double boiler by placing a heat safe bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Add egg yolks, sugar and citrus juice to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Continue whisking constantly for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until well combined. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.
- Once pavlova is baked, turn the oven off and allow to cool completely inside, about an hour.
- Once pavlova is cool, use a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or a hand mixer, and whisk heavy whipped cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
- To assemble the pavlova, top one layer with half the whipped cream and curd followed by supremed grapefruit pieces, then place the second layer on top. Pile the rest of the whipped cream on top and spread out with the back of a spoon, creating swoops and wells in the whipped cream. Then drizzle with grapefruit curd, and arrange the blood orange supremes evenly on top. Sprinkle with fresh mint and serve immediately.
Eitan's Quick Bite:
- Superfine sugar can be harder to find in the United States than in Australia where the recipe originates. Luckily it is super easy to make at home in just a few minutes. All you need to do is place the same amount of granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times. It will yield an extra few tablespoons than you need, so be sure to measure again.