Spring is right around the corner, and I can’t wait.
This has been a cold dark winter, I am ready to kiss it goodbye and celebrate with some lovely spring desserts.
One of my favorite spring treats is lemon-misu, a recipe out of my cookbook. I love tiramisu and wanted a lighter, lemon version of the dessert. Instead of lady fingers, I use thin, flat lemon cookies. I soak strawberries in a little sherry and layer it all with mascarpone cheese, lemon curd and whipped topping. The sherry/strawberry juice softens the cookies. The final result is a slightly tart, sweet, light and airy scrumptious dessert.
I have always equated this season with tarts, so I whipped up an incredibly easy lemon blueberry tart. Seriously, this has minimal ingredients and is delicious. I used a store-bought pie crust, then filled it with mascarpone cheese, lemon curd, lemon zest and powdered sugar and topped it with fresh blueberries. It’s wonderful.
Pavlovas are another seasonal dessert.
Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (a New Zealand chef created this in her honor). It has a crusty exterior but the center is soft and tastes like a marshmallow. I used vanilla and coconut extract to flavor my meringue, but you can be playful and use anything from almond to raspberry extract (just plan your filling accordingly).
You can fill a Pavlova with anything, too, but I filled mine with store-bought lemon curd, whipped topping and Grand Marnier marinated blackberries. If you don’t have Grand Marnier, it may not be worth buying a bottle because it’s expensive. You could substitute sherry, another orange liqueur, or omit the alcohol and just soak berries in 2 tablespoons orange juice, if desired. This also excellent with blueberries or raspberries or a combination.
Enjoy the recipes.
1/3 cup sherry
11/4 cups sliced strawberries
10 ounces lemon curd
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping
2 package Lemonia cookies or any flat lemon cookie
Rinse, hull and slice strawberries. Place in a shallow bowl, cover with sherry and leave for 30 minutes.
Next, stir together lemon curd, mascarpone cheese and half the container of whipped topping.
Place a layer of lemon cookies in the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch pan. Be sure to cover the entire bottom, even if you have to break the cookies up.
Spread half the lemon curd mixture over cookies. Add another layer of cookies and then top that with strawberries. Pour the juices from the strawberry/sherry mixture over the top. Spread remaining half of the lemon curd mixture over the strawberries and top that with whipped topping. You will have leftover cookies.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. The longer this rests, the softer the cookies will become. It can be made up to a day in advance.
Lemon blueberry tart
1 (9-inch) tart pan
1 store-bought pie crust or favorite pie recipe
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (10-ounce) jar lemon curd
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pint fresh blueberries
You will make this in a tart pan, but do not remove the pan before slicing or the crust will break.
Spread pie crust in the tart pan and make sure the edges/crust fold over slightly to prevent the pie shell from shriveling up when baked. Make the pie crust according to package directions.
Cool completely on the counter before filling.
For the filling, stir together mascarpone and powdered sugar, then stir in lemon curd and zest. Spread into the tart pan. Top with blueberries. Cover and refrigerate two hours or until time to serve.
NOTE: If you cannot find mascarpone cheese, substitute 1 (8-ounce) container of cream cheese at room temperature (you will need to rechill an additional hour).
Pavlova with lemon curd and Grand Marnier soaked blackberries
5 large egg whites
11/4 cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 teaspoons corn starch
For the filling:
1 (10-ounce) jar lemon curd
2 cups whipped topping
11/2 cups fresh blackberries or raspberries
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
For the Pavlova:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Place a large piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Beat egg whites on high speed (or meringue setting if your mixer has one) for 1 minute. Then gradually start adding the sugar, only 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form. Then fold in both types of extract and corn starch.
Spread mixture onto parchment paper, making it an 11-inch circle of oval. Shape with spatula; you want a slight dip in the center because you’re going to fill the center.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Then turn off the oven but leave the door ajar and leave the Pavlova in the oven another hour.
The center will be collapsed, which is fine because you want to fill it.
While it cools, place blackberries in a bowl and add Grand Marnier. Set aside.
When it’s time to fill Pavlova, fill with whipped topping and spread that in the center. Then take teaspoons at a time of the lemon curd and drop dollops around the center. Cover with blackberries and serve. Note: for the sake of the photo, I left space to see the lemon curd to show contrasting colors, but I would cover the top in berries when serving.
Juliana Goodwin is author of “Rotisserie Chicken Queen: 50 Fabulous Recipes That Stat With Rotisserie Chicken.” Contact her at email@example.com.