Mini Lemon Pavlova Clouds

Light and airy mini pavlova clouds are a delicious treat that are much easier to make than you think. Topped off mini pavlovas with sweet and tangy lemon curd and whipped cream and you have the perfect dessert for the spring and summer months.

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The first step in making these delightful mini lemon pavlova clouds is to prepare the components, of which there are four: the lemon curd, the pavlova, the whipped cream and whatever garnish you choose to use. Let’s start with the lemon curd. 

Lemon Curd

You have a choice when it comes to the lemon curd – you can buy prepared lemon curd at the grocery store or you can choose to make the lemon curd from scratch. One of the benefits of making lemon curd yourself is that there are no preservatives or artificial flavors in it. It’s bright and lemony and it’s something you can be proud of. If you use my recipe for lemon curd, another bonus is that you won’t use it all in this recipe. You’ll have some leftover which you can enjoy in yogurt, with a scone or on toast. It also makes a very special gift when put into a little jar with a ribbon. If you make your own lemon curd, do it in advance of this recipe so that it has time to properly cool.

In addition, if you are making your own lemon curd think about your final garnish before you squeeze all the lemons. If you decide you will garnish the clouds with lemon zest, zest the lemons before you squeeze them because it’s much easier to zest a whole lemon than half a squeezed lemon. You can also make candied lemon peel as a garnish if you are feeling really ambitious. On to the pavlova…

Lemon curd, eggs, sugar, vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch on a countertop with a yellow spatula.

What is a Pavlova?

In simplest terms, a pavlova is a baked meringue. It’s easy to make by beating egg whites, incorporating sugar as you go, until they are stiff and glossy. Then, you stabilize the whites by stirring in cornstarch, add some vinegar and any flavoring you like (such as vanilla extract) and bake the meringue in the oven until the outside becomes crisp and crunchy while the inside remains soft and chewy. It’s actually much easier than you think, but does require a little time to bake and cool properly.

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A bowl of egg whites partially whipped in a glass bowl with a hand mixer next to it.

Frothy Egg Whites

Start by separating the eggs very carefully. You can see two different ways of doing this in the video below. Then, begin beating the egg whites until they are just frothy as in the photo above. That’s when you’ll continue to beat, but adding sugar a tablespoon at a time. 

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Meringue in a glass bowl with vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch on a countertop.

Stiff and Glossy Egg Whites

Knowing how long to beat the egg whites is really the only tricky part of making pavlova. What you are looking for is a glossy sheen and stiff peak stage. You can see in the photo above that the egg whites maintain a peak on the beaters when lifted out of the meringue. In soft peak stage, the peak folds over and looks like a Hershey’s® Kiss. In stiff peak stage, the peak stands straight up. When you reach this stage, use a spatula to fold in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla extract.

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A hand holding parchment paper up on a baking sheet with a dollop of meringue in each corner.

Pavlova Baking Tip

Using parchment paper on your baking sheet ensures that you will be able to remove your pavlovas from the sheet easily, but parchment paper can shift around as you spoon the sticky meringue onto the pan. Here’s a tip that will save you a lot of grief: dollop four blobs of meringue onto the corners of the baking sheet and use it as glue for your parchment paper. 

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Raw pavlovas on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Mini Pavlovas

Usually you bake a pavlova in one large circle, but for these mini lemon pavlova clouds you’ll divide the meringue into six. Divide the batter onto the baking sheet first and then swirl each meringue around in a whimsical manner, making each one into a circle.

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Cooked pavlovas on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Cooking Time for Pavlova

These mini pavlovas will take a total of one hour to bake in the oven, but it’s important to pay attention to the oven temperature. Pavlovas like a good hot oven at the on-set of baking and then a lower temperature to bake through without browning too much. So, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF and then lower the temperature immediately to 275ºF for the first 30 minutes. For the second half of baking, turn the oven off completely but leave the pavlovas inside. Letting them sit inside the turned off oven lets the pavlovas cool more gradually and helps prevent cracking.

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Building a mini lemon pavlova cloud on a marble surface.

Homemade Whipped Cream

The next component in these mini lemon pavlova clouds is the whipped cream. To me, “homemade whipped cream” is a redundant term. There is only homemade whipped cream. Buy heavy cream and whip it. Period. In many instances, people sweeten whipped cream, but I don’t recommend that for pavlova desserts. The meringue is already sugary and the lemon curd is very sweet. The whipped cream just needs to be whipped to soft peak stage as is. Easy peasy.

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Mini Lemon Pavlova Cloud on a marble surface with ingredients around.

Assemble the Pavlovas

You can prepare or make all of the components ahead of time, but the final assembly of the mini lemon pavlova clouds needs to be at the last minute. The good news is that it takes no time at all. Start by spooning a little lemon curd onto the pavlovas. Top with  a couple spoons of whipped cream and garnish with the lemon zest, lemon slices or candied lemon peel. Then serve and impress.

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A fork lifting a piece of pavlova off a white plate with more pavlovas in the background.

Other Pavlovas

If you enjoy making pavlovas (as I do) and are interested in other flavors, check out my Pistachio Pavlova with Strawberries or the classic Chocolate Eton Mess that layers chocolate pavlova with cream, raspberries and chocolate flakes.

Watch The Recipe Video

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Mini Lemon Pavlova Clouds 

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 1 h
  • Total Time: 1 h 20 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Lemon Curd see recipe
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Candied Lemon Peels:
  • 3 lemons
  • cups water
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue to beat the egg whites until they are glossy and stiff. Gently fold the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla into the egg whites.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon six dollops of the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet. Smooth each dollop of meringue into a circle about 4-inches in diameter using a spatula in a circular motion. Transfer the pan to the 350ºF oven and immediately lower the heat to 275ºBake the mini pavlovas for 30 minutes at 275ºF.
  4. When the pavlovas have finished baking, turn the oven off with the pavlovas inside and let them sit in the turned off oven for another 30 minutes. Then remove the pavlovas from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack. (You can make this recipe up to this step a day ahead of time if you like. Once the pavlovas have cooled completely, store them in an air-tight container or wrap well with plastic wrap and leave in a cool spot of your kitchen.)
  5. Only assemble the clouds just before serving. When you are ready to assemble and serve, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Spread a few spoonfuls of the lemon curd on top of each pavlova and dollop some whipped cream on top, swirling with a spatula if you like. Garnish with thinly sliced quarter moons of fresh lemon peel, some candied lemon peel or fresh lemon zest.
To make Candied Lemon Peels:
  1. Using a vegetable peeler or channel knife, take off long strips of the lemon rind and cut them into ¼-inch wide strips. Place the peels in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes to remove any bitter taste in the pith. Remove the peels from the water and discard the water.
  2. Place the lemon peels back into the saucepan with 1½ cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Then lower the heat and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the peels from the water and roll them in granulated or superfine sugar. Allow the coated peels to cool on a cooling rack or parchment paper.
  3. **Reserve the lemon sugar water (lemon simple syrufor cocktails or to add to sparkling water to make your own sparkling lemonade.
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