Have you heard of 'Diner en Blanc'? It's an annual international white-themed outdoor dinner at a secret location. Originating in Paris, France, it epitomizes elegance and style and fun. These fluffy Lemon Coconut Pavlovas make a delectable statement - a fitting finale for fun or fancy dinners. (Skip to recipe.)
Fun in White at 'Diner en Blanc'
We attended Dîner en Blanc again last week. A magical and fun evening. The secret location this year was right in the heart of downtown Edmonton in Churchill Square - a total change from last year's lovely location.
This one was a little more crowded, but had a city vibe to it that provided energy and exuberance (though I must admit, I loved last year's park setting better, in spite of the rain showers).
There were a few top hats to be seen:
And in anticipation of that, I've come up with a dessert I think would be fitting for such a wonderful event: mini pavlovas bursting with lemon and coconut flavors. Fluffy, fun, but sophisticated. Serve them at any dinner party and your guests will be wowed. The meringues are crispy on the outside, yet chewy and marshmallowy on the inside. The lemon is zingingly tart, and the coconut so mellow and tropical. Ooooh, yum.
Raymond's mom makes a wonderful lemon coconut custard pie, so I've always known that the lemon and coconut pairing is a match made in heaven. In these mini pavlovas it comes down to earth so we mortals can enjoy a little taste.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps and a is a long process, but it's much simpler than it looks. The beauty of this recipe is that the meringues can be made several days, or weeks, in advance. (Why not double the recipe and have some on hand to make a batch of this lovely Prairie Eton Mess?) The Lemon Curd and Coconut Whip can also be made up to three days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Then you can assemble the pavlovas just before dinner or right at dessert time. I love that kind of entertaining.
For the Coconut Meringues:
- 2 large egg whites (save the yolks)
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup (100gms) sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch or potato starch
- ½ teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fine shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large cookie sheet. Draw 4 four-inch (10cm) circles on the parchment paper, leaving at least 2 inches of space between them. Flip the paper over (so the meringues won't bleed colour from the lines) and place on the cookie sheet.
Beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually, about one tablespoon at a time, beating until the meringue is thick and glossy. Add the cornstarch, vinegar, and finely shredded coconut. Beat until they are well mixed in.
Divide the meringue between the four circles and with the back of a spoon, shape each one into a nest slightly smaller than the circle, with the center indented. The meringues will puff up as they bake.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 175°F.
Bake the meringues for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool inside the oven, without opening the door, for an additional 30 minutes.
When completely cool, use immediately, or store them in an airtight container for up to several weeks.
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For the Lemon Coconut Curd:
- ¼ cup (60gms) organic, virgin coconut oil
- ¼ cup (50gms) sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup (80ml) lemon juice
- 2 egg yolks (from the meringues)
- 1 large egg
Melt the coconut oil in a medium sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the ingredients in the order given. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture just starts to form bubbles.
Let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then transfer the curd to a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap placed directly on the curd. Let cool, then refrigerate until chilled.
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For the Coconut Whip Topping:
- 1 cup (240ml) coconut cream from the top of a 398ml/14oz can of premium full-fat coconut milk that's been chilled so the cream rises to the top
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons white rum or 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely shredded coconut
- long-thread shredded coconut to garnish
Make sure to chill the can of coconut milk so the cream rises to the top. Open the can, then with a spoon, carefully scoop out the solid cream from the top. (Save the watery coconut milk from the bottom for adding to smoothies, sauces or soups - it can be frozen.)
Whip the coconut cream with the sugar and rum or lemon juice until it is smooth and fluffy. Whip in the finely shredded coconut.
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To assemble the Mini Pavlovas:
Spread about ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) lemon curd into the indent in the center of the meringue. Top with about ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) coconut whip and garnish with a shower of long-thread shredded coconut.
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