Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream

Between the crispy meringue shell and the marshmallowy soft inside, this berry pavlova with lemon curd cream is the perfect party dessert. Everything is easy to make and can all be made ahead of time!

pavlova on a white cake stand covered with lemon curd cream topped high with fresh berries, mint leaves, and a few slices of lemonThis post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a fee from qualifying purchases.

We’re in the height of holiday entertaining season. Every direction you look, it’s cookies and cakes and candies. I’m offering an alternative suggestion for a holiday dessert. One we tend to think of more in summer than winter, thanks to the giant pile of beautiful berries.

Now look, I’m all about eating local when we can. But I also believe in splurging on imported fresh berries from warm tropical places in the dead of winter. And let’s be honest: with all those cookies and cakes, doesn’t a pile of berries look incredible refreshing? Yes, yes it does.

So I’m suggesting this berry pavlova with lemon curd as the perfect year round dessert. It’s a no-brainer in the summer, but look beyond fresh berry season. In spring, pavlovas are perfect for Easter or Passover (swap the cornstarch for potato starch!). In winter, they’re the perfect alternative to the too-sweet treats we overindulge on at holiday parties.

And the best part? Everything from the meringue-based pavlova to the homemade lemon curd and whipped cream is easy to make and can be made ahead of time.  Ready to find out how? Keep reading!

a slice of berry pavlova with lemon curd cream on a stack of blue dessert plates with the rest of the pavlova visible in the background sitting on a white cake stand

What is a Pavlova?

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina.  Pavlova originated in either Australia or New Zealand (and there is much debate over which one!). 

Made from whipped egg whites, a pavlova is crispy on the outside like a meringue, but has a soft, marshmallow-like texture on the inside.  They are usually topped with whipped cream (traditionally unsweetened) and fresh fruit.

Pavlovas are sweet – but not too sweet – and have the perfect crispy-soft texture contrast.  This particular version is topped with a generous pile of lemon curd whipped cream and overflowing with berries, and is one of my personal all time favorite desserts!

side by side photos of pavlova meringue before and after baking on a cookie sheet

Ingredients for Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd

The ingredient list is pretty short and sweet – in fact, I almost always have everything on here at home already, minus the fresh berries and mint.

As you’ll notice from the ingredient list, pavlovas are also a great dessert option for those with dietary restrictions. They are naturally gluten and dairy free.  This entire recipe (with the lemon curd cream) is gluten free.  Swap out the lemon curd cream for a dairy free whipped cream alternative as a dairy free dessert option.

  • egg whites
  • granulated sugar
  • cornstarch or potato starch
  • lemon juice
  • vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (I love the little flecks of vanilla beans that show up when you use vanilla bean paste!)
  • lemon curd (of course I’ll recommend my super easy homemade lemon curd recipe, but store bought works too)
  • heavy cream
  • fresh berries
  • lemon slices and mint leaves for garnish

freshly baked pavlova on a white cake stand with a bowl of homemade lemon curd cream and strawberries and blueberries scattered on a marble sturface

How to Make Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream

As I mentioned above, pavlovas are EASY! Don’t let the long directions fool you. There may be a lot of steps and the whole process make take some time, but it’s mostly hands off time spent baking in the oven.

The trick to making a pavlova is whipping egg whites until stiff and shiny. You’ll know they’re done when you can hold the bowl upside-down and they don’t fall out! Want to know a trick to make the bast pavlovas? Use old egg whites! Why will this help? It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry.

Kitchen Chemistry

Fresh egg whites have tightly folded proteins. These proteins are very viscous and harder to beat air into, resulting in less volume. As eggs age, the proteins in the egg whites begin to unfold, allowing for more volume as the whites are whipped. However, the older eggs give off more carbon dioxide, which raises the pH of the egg whites. This leads to a more unstable foam, more likely to collapse. To combat this, we add in an acid (lemon juice) to the egg white once they reach their maximum volume.

To make a pavlova, take your (slightly aged!) egg white and whip them in a (clean, oil free!) bowl at low speed, slowly increasing to high speed.  Once peaks begin to form, add inthe sugar until the meringue is stiff. Fold in the cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a circle and bake for an hour, then turn off the oven and let it cool in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

While the pavlova bakes, make the lemon curd cream. Making homemade lemon curd is easy – 5 ingredients and 15 minutes are all you need. You’ll want to let it chill for at least an hour, so you can start this process before the pavlova, or as soon as it starts baking.

To turn lemon curd into lemon curd cream, whip the heavy cream until medium-stiff peaks form. You can use a mixer for this, but I think the whisk attachment of an immersion blender and the tall, thin blending jar that comes with them is even easier. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon curd.

When you’re ready to serve the berry pavlova, pile the lemon curd cream on top of the cooled pavlova. Arrange the berries on top and add a few mint sprigs and slices of lemons. Beautiful and easy!

side view of a vanilla pavlova on a white cake stand with fresh berries scattered around the base of the cake stand

Can Pavlova Be Made in Advance?

YES! Not only does the oven do most of the work making a pavlova, but what makes this a really great dinner party dessert is that pavlova can be made ahead of time!

You can make the meringue ahead of time. If you store a pavlova loosely wrapped at room temperature it will keep for two to three days.

The lemon curd and whipped cream can be made ahead of time, as well. The lemon curd can be made up to a month ahead of time.  The homemade whipped cream can be made up to two days in advance.

The pavlova should be assembled immediately before serving, as it will start to lose the crispy exterior as it absorbs moisture from the lemon curd cream. Assembly takes less than 5 minutes, however!

overhead view of an assembled berry pavlova with lemon curd cream piled high with fresh berries

How to Store Berry Pavlova

This berry pavlova with lemon curd cream is best enjoyed immediately after assembly. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator will soften the meringue. It will still taste good, but will lose the texture contrast between the crunchy exterior and soft marshmallowy interior.

Once assembled, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

a side view of a slice of berry pavlova showing the contrast in texture between the crispy outside and the soft marshmallow-like interior

Tips and Tricks for The Best Pavlova

  1. Use old egg whites! If you crack open an egg and find that the white is cloudy and viscous, leave it in the fridge for a few days and make your pavlova later – we want egg whites that are clear and runny to achieve maximum egg white volume.
  2. Make sure the bowl you use for whipping the egg whites is clean. Even a tiny bit of residual oil or fat left on the bowl will prevent your egg whites from whipping up to their highest potential.
  3. Use room temperature egg whites. If you forgot to remove your egg whites from the refrigerator, place the whole eggs in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes to bring them up to room temperature before cracking and separating.
  4. Thoroughly dry off the berries before placing them on top of the lemon curd cream layer. I wash them the night before and let them dry in a colander lined with a paper towel in the refrigerator. 
  5. Make the components of the pavlova ahead of time, but wait to assemble the pavlova until immediately before serving.  The meringue, lemon curd, and whipped cream can each be made several days ahead of time, but the pavlova will lose its crispy exterior once stored in the refrigerator after adding the lemon curd cream layer.

More Berry Dessert Recipes

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream: This classic pavlova recipe is the perfect entertaining dessert. Fancy enough for a dinner party, but extremely easy to make and everything can be made ahead of time! #bunsenburnerbakery #pavlova #berries #lemon #lemoncurd

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream

Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Between the crispy meringue shell and the marshmallowy soft inside, this berry pavlova with lemon curd cream piled high with fresh berries is the perfect party dessert.

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the lemon curd cream:

For assembly:

  • assorted berries (2-3 cups)
  • mint leaves
  • lemon slices

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly grease the parchment paper and dust with cornstarch or potato starch, shaking off the excess.
    2. Make the meringue. Combine the egg whites and and salt in a bowl.  Using an electric mixer with a whisk or beater attachment, begin beating the egg whites at low speed, slowly increasing to high speed.  Continue to beat until satiny peaks form, then start adding in sugar a tablespoon at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.  Sprinkle the cornstarch (or potato starch), lemon juice, and vanilla on top of the whipped egg whites and fold in gently.  Pile the egg whites onto the prepared parchment paper and shape into a roughly 9-inch wide circle, flattening the top and smoothing the sides.  
    3. Bake the meringue. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 300 °C.  Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and allow the meringue to cool for 30 minutes, still in the oven.
    4. Make the lemon curd cream. While the meringue bakes and cools, make the lemon curd cream.  Using an electric mixer or the whisk attachment of an immersion blender, beat the heavy cream until medium peaks form.  Gently fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream until well combined.  Set aside and refrigerate.
    5. Assemble the berry pavlova. When ready to serve, spread the lemon curd cream on top of the meringue and top with the berries.  Decorate with the mint leaves and a few lemon slices.

Notes

  1. Use old egg whites - look for egg whites that are clear and runny for a taller, fluffier pavlova.
  2. Make sure the bowl you use for whipping the egg whites is clean. Even a tiny bit of residual oil or fat left on the bowl will prevent your egg whites from whipping up to their highest potential.
  3. Use room temperature egg whites. If you forgot to remove your egg whites from the refrigerator, place the whole eggs in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes to bring them up to room temperature before cracking and separating.
  4. Make the components of the pavlova ahead of time, but wait to assemble the pavlova until immediately before serving.  The meringue, lemon curd, and whipped cream can each be made several days ahead of time, but the pavlova will lose its crispy exterior once stored in the refrigerator after adding the lemon curd cream layer.


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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 354Total Fat: 12.8gCarbohydrates: 58.1gProtein: 4g

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Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream: This classic pavlova recipe is the perfect entertaining dessert. Fancy enough for a dinner party, but extremely easy to make and everything can be made ahead of time! #bunsenburnerbakery #pavlova #berries #lemon #lemoncurd