This fabulous showstopper of a dessert literally bursts with flavor: a crispy pavlova with a marshmallowy center is topped with tart, lush pomegranate curd made from fresh pomegranate and whipped cream and finished with more fresh pomegranate arils.
Do you know what tastes great with pomegranate? EVERYTHING. No, seriously. It goes great in pie. In salad. On hummus. In meat dishes. With rice. In a breakfast bowl/smoothies. In any dessert you can think of! Literally anything works with pomegranate. And this is why I love it.
And for this recipe, I just really wanted to mound a mountain of pomegranate on top of a pavlova. I knew it would work amazingly well. The sharpness of the curd and fresh arils contrast so well with the softly sweet meringue bits. This is a christmas showstopper, for sure.
How To Make Pomegranate Curd
It is really, really important to use freshly juiced arils for the pomegranate juice in this recipe. Store-bought pomegranate juice is not as flavorful and won’t come through in the final curd recipe.
My recipe is simple, and a lot like lemon curd: you’ll simply whisk most of the ingredients together, then add a cornstarch mixture and cook until thick. I add the butter after the curd is done cooking as I believe it leads to a more silky finish. Also, always always sieve the curd after it cooks, this removes any bits of egg and zest.
This recipe makes more than you’ll need for the pavlova. Store it in the fridge, it’ll keep for 3-4 weeks. You can use it to swirl around cheesecake, over meringues or pavlovas, and most definitely over pancakes or french toast… anywhere you would use lemon curd!
How To Make A Perfect Pavlova
I mention this before: Almost every pavlova/meringue recipe follows the ratio of 1/4 cup sugar (52g) per 1 large egg white. Notable pavlova recipes that I’ve learned from and have developed my own recipe from are Nigella’s, Zoe’s and Ottolenghi’s.
I use and instruct to follow the swiss method which is warming egg whites and sugar together (while whisking) over simmering water to dissolve the sugar. You’ll do a pinch test to check for sugar granules and when you can detect none, transfer the mix to a stand mixer and whisk it until it’s at stiff peaks.
Here I add salt (sometimes I add the vanilla early too) and then I whip it until it’s almost at stiff peaks – it takes a while, sometimes a full ten minutes. At this point you’ll add the vinegar and sprinkle over the cornstarch. These two last ingredients give the pavlova it’s signature texture: crispy on the outside and marshmallowy soft inside.
Troubleshooting Pavlovas: Cracking, Seeping Sugar, Etc.
Collapsing and seeping are bigger problems than cracking when it comes to a pavlova. A few cracks will be covered by the toppings so don’t sweat them too much. If the pavlova completely collapses or you see sugar seeping out something went wrong and is related to one of the following:
Things we can control: cleaning our tools, paying attention to the meringue stages.
Oils that were on your baking tools or egg yolks that weren’t correctly separate have fats that inhibit the process of beating & aerating.
Cracking, weeping and collapsing pavlovas are usually because the sugar didn’t dissolve fully before the meringue went into the oven OR because they weren’t beaten correctly.
Use the pinch test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved before you take it off the bain marie. This means sticking your thumb and index finger into the mix and ‘pinching’ it to see how it feels. If you feel granules of sugar, it’s not dissolved yet.
Beating: beat until stiff peaks which means until you can remove the whisk attachment and the meringue holds shape. Don’t overbeat beyond this point.
Things we can only try to control: the weather! Humid and or rainy days can work against a meringue because they add moisture into the air which will stop the meringue from aerating.
Pomegranate Pavlova Recipe
- stand mixer for whipping the meringue
- 3 eggs plus 3 yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon lime juice plus zest of 1 lime
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or more if you like
- 1 teaspoon vinegar plain or apple cider
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch fine sea salt
- Fresh pomegranate arils
- Make the pomegranate curd: In a small bowl combine ¼ cup pomegranate juice and the tapioca or cornstarch. Whisk and set aside. Set the butter, cubed into a bowl and over the bowl a fine mesh sieve. In a pot stir together ¾ cup pomegranate juice, eggs, yolks, salt, lime juice & zest and sugar. Set the pot over medium heat and whisk until the sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved pomegranate & tapioca starch and whisk. Stir the curd until it thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon (it will thicken on the bottom at first but stir it with a rubber spatula until it’s all thick). Pour it through the fine mesh sieve (this removes any bits) and stir it until the butter is incorporated and the curd is smooth. Set in the fridge in a heatproof jar to chill. This can be done 24 hours or up to 3 days ahead of time.
- Make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 275 F and line a greased cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bring a pot filled ⅓ of the way with water to a simmer. Set the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over the pot (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk the egg whites and sugar for about 4 minutes as it gently heats. When you can pinch the mixture and not detect any sugar granules, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip the mix on medium for about 10 minutes; it’ll slowly turn into a thick, fluffy meringue. When you almost have stiff peaks, add the vanilla, salt, cornstarch and vinegar (one by one, carefully and slowly).
- Shape and bake the pavlova: Dollop the meringue onto the prepared cookie sheet into a big mound then use an offset spatula to shape it into a 6” circle/dome. Press the top down a bit to create a cave shape on top. Use a wet finger to swipe clean the bottom of the meringue, getting the tip of your finger under it slightly (so that it’s not too flat on the bottom). Bake it for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, then shut off the oven and leave the pavlova in there for at least another hour (preferably overnight).
- Assemble the pavlova: Whip the heavy cream with the sugar & salt in a food processor or with a hand beater until you have medium peaks. Right before you’d like to serve the dish, spread half of the curd around the top of the pavlova. Dollop the whipped cream on top of the curd then top with fresh pomegranate arils.