For the meringue:
- Beat the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl with a table-top mixer at high speed, for approximately one minute until the egg whites are light, fluffy and soft. Next, add a 1/4 of the sugar and return to high speed, whisking for six to eight minutes until smooth, glossy, stiff peaks appear. Once this is achieved, turn the speed to slow, and add the remainder of the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and vanilla extract. Slowly mix until fully incorporated (do not overmix).
- Pipe or spoon the meringue on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, in rough circles approximately ten centimeters in diameter. Ensure there is a little divot in the centre and that the stiff meringue is sitting about four centimeters in height. Bake in a 110 degrees C preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, ensuring the meringue does not take on colour – a true Pavlova should have a soft, chewy marshmallow-like centre, with a crunchy outer crust.
For the lemon curd:
- In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, whole egg and egg yolks. Transfer this mixture to a good-sized non-reactive pan, over low heat. Stir with a spatula until it comes to a gentle simmer. Add the butter, continue cooking and stirring until thickened, smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place a small dollop of the lemon curd in the centre of a serving plate. On top, place one beautiful Pavlova meringue. Using the back of a spoon, crack and break the centre and scoop in a heaped tablespoon (or more) of the lemon meringue. Next add a large dollop of the stiffly whipped cream. Take your selection of berries that have been washed, cleaned and dried. Pile as many berries onto the whipped cream as desired, letting a few tumble to the plate. Add a sprig of mint, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Note: the reason we put a little lemon curd on the plate first is to prevent the Pavlova from sliding around. The pavlova can be up to three days ahead, along with the lemon curd and whipped cream. Success in the kitchen is all about planning and preparation.