These mini lemon pavlovas with berries are so sweet and delightful! The exterior is light and crisp while the inside is soft and marshmallowy. It only takes handful of ingredients and a mixer to whip up these beauties. And if you want that extra wow factor, top with partially frozen berries! It is an amazing combination. Continue reading below for the recipe.
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What are Mini Lemon Pavlovas?
Mini lemon pavlovas consist of traditional pavlova meringue topped with a lemon curd cream. The lemon flavor is the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the pavlovas.
The main ingredients in a pavlova are egg whites, superfine sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice or vinegar. You can also use vanilla or other flavoring, but the pavlova will not be as white in color if you use vanilla. With the addition of lemon juice, you don’t really need the vanilla because it tastes very fresh just as it is!
Pavlovas contain a LOT of sugar, which makes them super sweet and delicious. When choosing garnishes, think about what toppings are a good contrast. Using lemon curd, lime, mango curd, passionfruit, or any other acidic or tart flavored filling is a great choice so that you don’t get an overly sweet dessert.
Many pavlovas call for whipped cream and berries, which is a perfectly wonderful combination as well. The trick is to make sure that the whipped cream isn’t overly sweet, and then it’s still a good balance.
Fresh Egg Whites Vs. Aged Egg Whites for Pavlova
I discovered this happy little detail by accident! I had some egg whites sitting in my fridge for a week, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I decided to use them for the mini lemon pavlovas.
When I make pavlovas, I usually just use whatever eggs I have in the fridge, whether they are new or old.
But here’s the really cool thing that I discovered. Much like making macarons, making pavlova with aged egg whites means that they have less water content and more stability.
The mini pavlovas turn out perfectly fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Can you achieve this same result with fresh eggs? Yes, but I have found that the extra moisture can make the meringue deflate inside sometimes. The aged egg whites give your pavlovas that extra assurance of stability.
So do you have to use aged egg whites? No, you certainly do not. Will I always use aged egg whites for mini lemon pavlovas? YES! Because the meringue turned out better than ever.
5 Tips for Making the Best Mini Pavlovas
- Use room temperature egg whites because they whip up quicker and fuller than cold egg whites. So simple, but it makes a big difference and saves you about 10 minutes of mixing times!
- NEVER make mini lemon pavlovas, big pavlovas, or any meringues on humid days. Humidity (moisture) is the enemy of pavlova, and it can leave you with a sticky exterior or separated and sunken interior.
- Use superfine sugar caster sugar so that it dissolves completely. Any undissolved sugar in the pavlova will cause it to weep sugar, and the interior will “melt” as the sugar seeps out everywhere.
- Rub some of the meringue between your thumb and index finger to see if the sugar is dissolved. If you can feel sugar granules, it needs to mix longer. If it’s smooth, then the sugar has dissolved properly.
- Lastly, KEEP the oven shut no matter what! Once the mini pavlovas are in the oven, don’t open the door until you are actually ready to take them out. That means the door stays shut for at least 3 hours and 15 minutes or longer. We don’t want the pavlovas shrinking or collapsing due to rapid temperature change!
Fruits that Pair Well with Lemon Curd
While I used berries for this dessert, there are several fruits that work really well with lemon. Here are a few of the best combinations:
Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, marion berries
Citrus: Limes, oranges, blood oranges, kumquats
Tropical Fruit: Mangos and passionfruit
Other Fruits: Currants, peaches, and nectarines
Essential Baking Tools
- Half sheet pans
- Parchment paper
- A stand mixer with a whisk attachment
- A rubber spatula or offset spatula for shaping the mini pavlovas
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- 6 (190-200 grams) egg whites, aged for 2–7 days, room temperature
- 11 ounces (310 grams) superfine sugar(caster sugar)
- 2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 recipe lemon curd (can omit the zest if desired)
- Fresh, frozen, or macerated berries- such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries
To Make Mini Lemon Pavlovas
- Preheat oven to 200 and prepare 2 half sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Draw four – 3 inch circles on each piece of parchment, then flip the parchment over so the pencil side is down on the half sheet pans.
- Next, clean your mixing bowl and whisk with some vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any oils.
- Add the room temperature egg whites* to the mixing bowl and mix on speed 4 (for a 10 speed mixer).
- Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar** 1 tablespoon at a time every 30-60 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl 4-5 times when adding the sugar so that all of the sugar gets mixed in. If any sugar remains undissolved, this will cause the mini lemon pavlovas to weep.
- Mix on speed 4 until stiff peaks form, which takes about 25-35 minutes from start to finish. To test for stiff peaks, lift the whisk out of the bowl and see if the pavlova meringue stands up straight. If not, mix longer until stiff peaks form
- Add the cornstarch and lemon juice and mix for about 30 seconds on medium high.
- Spoon the meringue onto the parchment in the circles, keeping it high.
- Gently spread the meringue out to fill the circle and make upward furrows around the sides so that it helps the meringue to rise up and not outward.
- Make an indentation in the top of each mini pavlova for the lemon cream and berries.
- Place the pavlovas in the oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Do NOT open the oven at any point during the baking process or even once the mini pavlovas are done baking. They will deflate if there is a rapid change in temperature.
- Let the pavlovas rest in the oven for at least 2 hours or up to 6 after baking, being sure to keep the oven door shut!
- Make the lemon curd while the pavlovas are baking, and chill for at least 2 hours before using.
To Assemble the Mini Pavlovas
- Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and then fold in the lemon curd.
- Right before serving, top the pavlovas with the lemon cream and fresh berries or macerated berries of your choice. Do not put the toppings on far in advance because the mini pavlovas will soften from the moisture of the lemon cream and berries.
- This dessert is best eating within 1-2 days of making it.
*If you do not have time to age the egg whites, that is okay. I have used un-aged whites, and it still works. You just have more moisture to deal with, so be aware of that. Use room temperature whites no matter what though because they whip up better and fuller than cold egg whites.
**If you cannot find superfine sugar, you can also process granulated sugar in a food processor until it is fine. You will get the best results with superfine sugar though.
Keywords: mini lemon pavlovas, pavlova, superfine sugar