This dessert is as smart as it is pretty. From the ‘Eggs’ chapter of The Short Stack Cookbook, it highlights the versatility of its featured ingredient. The egg whites are whipped up to form meringues, while the yolks transform into a silky lemon curd. Everything can be made the day before, so it’s a great fit for a dinner party.
Poppy Seed Pavlovas with Lemon Curd
SERVES 4 TO 6
We can’t help but love a dish that’s as clever as it is delicious. This Pavlova is an homage to the egg in every possible way: visually, philosophically and practically. The curd shows off the rich custardy properties of egg yolk, while the meringue is a textbook demonstration of egg whites in action. The egg, dissected into white and yolks during cooking, comes back together on the plate and shares a remarkable resemblance to a fried egg. (Even the poppy seeds are in on the performance, posing as cracked pepper.) Tromp l’oeil notwithstanding, this is a perfect brunch dessert, especially because it’s best when the components are made the night before. The curd improves when given time to set up in the fridge, and the Pavlovas need to dry out in the oven overnight for that ideal crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture
FOR THE CURD:
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks (reserve the whites for meringues)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
FOR THE MERINGUE:
3 egg whites (reserved from making the curd)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Make the curd: Fill a medium saucepot with 1 inch of water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Place a metal bowl over the pot to create a double boiler and add the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice and salt to the bowl. Whisk constantly for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is almost pudding-like. Remove from the heat, let cool for 5 minutes, then add the butter slowly, piece by piece, whisking constantly to incorporate between additions. Cover the curd with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Chill overnight.
Make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy, then beat at high speed and gradually add the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spoon the meringue out into a dozen 3-inch circles, so they look like fried egg whites, using the back of the spoon to make a little indentation in the center of each one. Place the meringues in the oven on the bottom rack, then promptly turn the oven off. Let the meringues sit in the oven overnight.
Peel the meringues off the foil. Put a spoonful of lemon curd in the center of each meringue and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Divide the Pavlovas among 4 to 6 plates or arrange on a platter and serve.