I’ve always had a soft spot for pavlovas. I’ll never say no to one, and I’m constantly looking for an excuse to make them. Birthday pavlovas anyone? Stick a candle in a few of them and you’re good to go. I think this love affair is mostly because I like to pretend I’m far fancier than I actually am. It’s okay to play along every once in a while, and since blood oranges are in season right now, I think it’s the best idea to take advantage of winter citrus while it lasts. If you’re in need of another great blood orange recipe, let me casually remind of you of these Michelada Popsicles. They’re perfect for all of your weekend brunch plans. Plus, there’s three different flavors to choose from, one of which is a tasty habanero blood orange flavor.
Keep this recipe up your sleeve whenever you’re in need of a super fancy dessert that will impress all of your friends or family. And when I say fancy, I mean fancy. In my experience, pavlovas are always a show stopping dessert. People will be all like oooh and aaah when you set it down in front of them. That’s not to say that you can’t eat it on a regular Tuesday or Monday, because you definitely can. In fact, it’s probably better because you’ll enjoy it more after a long day of work. You can make it and eat it whenever you want. If you have the time and want to whip up a dessert for yourself (because you’ve earned it), on any given day, then go for it! I encourage it, because these pavlovas are most definitely worth it. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re missing out. Let this be the first time you give it a try. I’d be so happy if you did.
The first thing we need to do is make the blood orange curd. Because the curd needs to cool down and do it’s thing, it’s best to start on it first. I used Adrianna’s (A Cozy Kitchen) recipe for her blood orange curd, and it is phenomenal.
**Note: You’ll notice that the color of your curd might differ from mine or Adrianna’s, and that’s because the shades of the blood oranges differ from each one. Have no fear.**
Pour the fresh blood orange juice into a pot and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Then cream together the softened butter with the sugar.
**Tip: It’s best to do this with fresh blood oranges. I’m not even sure if already-squeezed blood orange juice is a thing, but even if it is, stay away from it for this recipe. If blood oranges aren’t in season for you or you’re having trouble finding them at the grocery store, feel free to try it with other citrus.**
Beat in the egg yolks, stir and then add the whole eggs. Once combined, add in the blood orange juice, salt and lemon juice. Set over a pot of simmering water (make sure that the bottom doesn’t touch water) and cook, stirring often until it comes together and becomes smooth and somewhat thick.
**Note: When you stir in the blood orange juice the mixture will appear to be curdled, but have no worries it’ll work out. Once it cooks, it’ll come together.**
Transfer the curd to a jar or container and set it aside to cool. As it cools, it’ll begin to thicken even more. In the meantime, let’s get started on the pavlovas. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
**Tip: It’s best to use room temperature egg whites when beating egg whites. You’ll find that they get fluffier if they’re at room temperature, and their texture is much smoother.**
Stir in the sugar, slowly streaming it in, while the machine is running on high. Beat until glossy and stiff peaks form, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, salt and cornstarch. Stir until well combined.
**Note: When adding these ingredients, your meringue might deflate a bit and get less stiff, just beat on high until it returns to stiff peaks again.**
Add the finely chopped pistachios and then carefully fold them into the meringue, using a rubber spatula. Make sure to fold gently, because you don’t want to deflate the whipped egg whites. You want the meringue to stay fluffy and firm.
Spoon the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make 6 or 8 mounds (depending on how big or small you want your pavlovas to be). Using a spoon or a small offset spatula, shape the pavlovas into rounds with a deep well in the center. Sprinkle them with a bit more of the chopped pistachios.
Bake in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat to 250°F and bake for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven, then prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and leave them in there for 1 hour. Let them cool down completely in the oven.
The pavlovas can be made the day before and kept in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to eat. It’s a great make ahead dessert that you can plan out before your dinner or whenever you plan on serving them.
Once you’re ready to assemble and serve the pavlovas, whip up some heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Spoon the fresh whipped cream into the center of the pavlovas and top with the homemade blood orange curd, a slice of fresh blood orange and a bit more chopped pistachios.
If you don’t have the time to make the blood orange curd, or just don’t feel like you want to, feel free to use store bought lemon curd in stead. Or top the pavlovas with whipped cream, orange segments and orange sorbet instead. The inspiration of this recipe came from Food & Wine and that’s how they made it.
If you’re allergic to nuts or aren’t a fan of pistachios (don’t tell me because I might cry) then you can definitely leave them out. The pavlovas will still taste just as great without them.
Take advantage of blood oranges while they’re still in season. Next time you’re at the grocery store, go to the produce section and grab all of the blood oranges they have. Take them all. Then you’ll be able to make a big batch of curd and use it with these pavlovas and just about everything else. You’ll be glad you did.
- ¾ cup unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- blood orange curd (recipe follows)
- 2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into circles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, or the bowl of your electric stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Slowly stream in the sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cornstarch and salt. Fold in about ¼ cup of the chopped pistachios until evenly combined.
- Spoon the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet into 6 or 8 (depending on how big you want them) mounds. Using a spoon or small offset spatula, shape them into circles, with a big well in the center. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the remaining chopped pistachios and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven and prop open the door with a wooden spoon handle and leave the meringues in there for 1 hour until completely cooled.
- Beat the heavy cream on high until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to overdo it because it'll end up like butter.
- To assemble the pavlovas, spoon a bit of the whipped cream into the center of each and top with a spoonful of the blood orange curd, a slice of blood orange, and a sprinkling of the remaining chopped pistachios. Serve immediately. The meringues can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
- 3/4 cup fresh blood orange juice (about 6 blood oranges), strained
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Pour the blood orange juice into a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Cook until slightly reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool slightly.
- Beat together the softened butter with the sugar, in a glass or metal bowl (your stand mixer bowl will be perfect here) until lightly and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and stir until well combined. Add the whole eggs and beat until well incorporated. Stir in the salt, lemon juice and slowly mix in the blood orange juice. The mixture will appear to be curdled, but that's okay.
- Fill a medium saucepan with a bit of water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water) and cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and everything comes together in a smooth texture. Remove the curd from the heat once it thickens and a thermometer reaches 166 degrees F. It'll continue to thicken as it cools.
- Run the curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits and to ensure it's smooth. Transfer to a jar with a lid or a container and store in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
- Yield: about 2 cups