Frozen Lemon Pavlova


03 Aug Frozen Lemon Pavlova

This recipe proves two things. One: Candied flowers can last. Two: Size matters.

As to the first point, I sugared these violets in April. The last of the batch I created for a Canadian Gardening article, they remained perfect, crisp and crystallized in their tiny plastic container. For 3 months. Take that dratted summer humidity!

As to the second point?  When I made this a sublime dish a few years ago, my tiny kitchen quickly turned the situation ridiculous. Meringues cooled in the dining room while dirty dishes circled in a holding pattern over the living room coffee table. With no counter space left I whipped the cream crouching on the floor as my hand mixer splattered dairy product on the walls. Upon presenting the dessert, I’m told I punctuated the birthday greetings with “Never Again” instead of heartfelt exclamation marks. “Happy Birthday, Dad Never Again  Hope you like the dessert Never Again May all your birthday wishes come true Never Again.”

But this is what Mom wanted for her birthday dessert. Since I can refuse her nothing, this is what I made —  in my newly renovated kitchen with its huge sink, ample counter space, spiffy stand mixer, handy albeit apartment-sized dish washer and full-sized oven that can take two baking sheets at once. Whip, wash, whisk, cook, cool, fold and assemble. Piece of cake.  In fact, it went together so easily I wonder what my problem had been.

Looking back at pre-reno photos …. oh, yes. I remember now.

So, if you’ve got a decent-sized kitchen and plan your attack, this recipe is worth every calorie. The best part? You can make it up to a week ahead of time.

And Happy Birthday, Mom. I’d make this again for you any time.

Do you have a favourite pain-in-the-pan dish? What is it and who do you make it for?

Frozen Lemon Pavolva

Serves 12

This recipe is a no-eggs-wasted adaptation of a recipe from Canadian Living Desserts (Random House, 1992).


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Trace four 8-inch circles on parchment paper. You should get two circles per sheet. Place parchment on baking sheets.
  3. Combine half the sugar with the cornstarch and lemon zest. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Separate the eggs, reserving the yolks for the filling.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding sugar 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until meringue is stiff. Add vanilla, then fold in remaining sugar mixture.
  6. Distribute the meringue evenly amongst the four circles. Gently spread the meringue to fill the circles, being careful not to go past the edges and ensuring the tops stay as smooth as possible.
  7. Bake for 1 hour or until the meringues are dry and light gold.
  8. Cool the meringues and then assemble immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • grated zest of 2  lemons
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (do not use bottled!)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  1. Place sugar, butter, zest and juice in a saucepan and heat over medium-high until sugar dissolves.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the yolks. In a slow, steady stream, pour the lemon mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly.
  3. Transfer the lemon mixture to the sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil.
  4. Pour the lemon mixture into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill until at least room temperature. The mixture can be chilled for up to 1 day.
  5. When you’re ready to assemble the pavlova, whip the cream and fold into the lemon mixture.


  1. Crumble one of the meringues. Set aside for garnish.
  2. Place one meringue in a 9-inch spring form pan. Pour one third of the lemon mixture over the meringue.
  3. Repeat the layers with the remaining meringues, ending with the filling on top.
  4. Sprinkle with the crumbled meringue.
  5. Cover and freeze for 8 hours. (Can be kept frozen for up to 1 week.)
  6. Let soften in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour before serving.

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No Comments
  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 12:22h, 03 August Reply

    I need to try this. First, I need to declutter my kitchen counters. Dynamite might work…

    My pain-in-the-pan dessert-chocolate truffles. I used to make handmade and dipped chocolate truffles. It took 3 days. First the ganache, which you chilled, but not too much. Then you piped them into small lumps. And chilled them…but not too much. Then you dipped your hands and the lumps into icing sugar and coaxed them into balls, but you had to work fast so they didn’t melt. And then you chilled them. I used to freeze them.
    Then you melt the chocolate coating, dip each truffle one at a time in the coating, and then pipe white chocolate decorations on them. And them you chill them again, safe in the knowledge that by now you are so sick of dealing with them, that even a confirmed chocoholic will ignore them.

    I also used to make chocolate dipped cherries. Drain the maraschino cherries (with stems) on paper towel, remembering to put a plate under the paper towel so you don’t stain the counter. (learned THAT one the hard way) Pat them dry and wrap them in fondant. chill. Melt coating and dip them in chocolate. 2 day process.

    I don’t make either one any more, and Christmas still comes.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:42h, 03 August Reply

      @Lisa MacColl, oh, truffles. Been there, piped that. In fact, Andrew and I had a croquembouche of chocolate truffles in lieu of a wedding cake ( And you’re right, “but not too much” is a recurring theme with these.

      I used to make them every Christmas and gave up. Wonder if I should resume now that the kitchen counter space can support more than a postage stamp.

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 21:16h, 03 August Reply

    For Heavens Sake Of Course You Should Keep Making Them!!! As Andrew would say, “talking about giving up making truffles is just crazy talk”. Also please make more Frozen Lemon Pavlova. I love them both!!
    Love from Guess Who.

  • Frugal Kiwi
    Posted at 23:02h, 03 August Reply

    Sounds fantastic, m’dear. Cheers from New Zealand, the home of the Pavlova.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:56h, 24 August Reply

      @Frugal Kiwi, strangely, I never saw pavlova on the menu when I was in New Zealand. No worries, the food there was fantastic. I spent a good five weeks there and never had a bad meal.

  • Helene
    Posted at 10:00h, 04 August Reply

    I just look at your before and after pictures of your kitchen. Looks really good. I love your new cuisine. I have to say that I have been missing cooking in a real kitchen from April to July since we were camping all over the States. In my trailer I did not have much space to cook. But we survived. I’ve never had Pavolva before. That must be a refreshing dessert for the summer.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:58h, 24 August Reply

      @Helene, I admire anyone who can cook in a trailer. Kudos to you. Especially in the heat of summer.

      This is a very refreshing summer dessert but I think my father wouldn’t mind even if I served it in the dead of winter. Lemon is his favourite.

      Safe travels and hope you enjoy your “real kitchen” upon your return.

  • Ben Goodger
    Posted at 12:39h, 09 September Reply

    I have made this twice now and it’s fantastic… it’s always a huge crowd pleaser. The most recent time I made it I made this slight tweak which to me resulted in a prettier looking cake…

    When baking, the meringues expanded past 8″, so before assembling the layers I took the bottom of the cake pan I had used to trace the 8″ circles and placed it over the meringue, then used a sharp knife to cut excess off from around the edges. This resulted in a perfectly circular 8″ meringue. I centered these in the 9″ springform which meant when I poured the mousse over it ran over the edges and when I removed the springform none of the meringue circles showed through the edges… it looked like a completely frosted cake… no-one who saw it was able to guess what was inside until they got their piece!

    Thanks for this awesome recipe!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 19:06h, 09 September Reply

      @Ben Goodger, what a great idea. I bet your pavlova was stunning. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your new-found technique. I wish I could have seen the look of surprise when your guests realized it wasn’t cake but a meringue!

  • Myra
    Posted at 06:58h, 16 March Reply

    I would love to make this pavlova,
    one question is it necessary to put butter in the filling?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:35h, 17 March Reply

      Good question. I’ve never made it without the butter and my gut response is you need it to keep the custard smooth.

      Is there a specific reason you want to omit the butter? If I understood your motivation, I might be able to suggest an alternative.

  • Ali
    Posted at 13:08h, 05 June Reply

    This looks amazing and I’m going to make it for my best friend’s birthday next week. My experience with pavlovas hasn’t been perfect in the past. I find they start to sweat if left out (too humid a day?) and lose their crunch. Other recipes note to turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in with the door propped open…did you do this too? Does it have to be frozen? Or can be assembled right before serving?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:03h, 05 June Reply

      Humidity is the enemy of meringues! I did not leave these in the oven with the door open but this is common with meringues. That step isn’t necessary in this recipe since the meringues will be layered with the lemon custard.

      And yes, you do need to assemble this ahead of time and freeze it. It’s intended to be a frozen dessert — the pavlova equivalent of an ice cream cake.

      Hope your friend likes it! I’d love to know how it turns out since it’s one of my mom’s favourite desserts.

  • Ali
    Posted at 22:21h, 07 June Reply

    It’s in the freezer now! took me about three hours and did it all in one shot. Fingers crossed….but i tasted the lemon curd and whipped cream and I can already tell it’s going to be a hit. I avoided the humidity (montreal…june…eek) by letting everything cool just enough for assembly without leaving it sitting out for too long. This may just be my solution to my summer pavlova problem (she asks for it every year…and every year I end up with a sticky mess if everything isn’t consumed immediately)! I’ll let you know how it works out! Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 06:31h, 08 June Reply

      Way to go! I love when people come up with creative solutions!

      Please let me know how the final result turns out. I know this dessert requires a lot of time to put together, but it really is a special result for special occasions.

      Thanks so much for the update. I look forward to hearing how the dish goes over with your friends.

  • Ali
    Posted at 12:48h, 10 June Reply

    It was a huge hit! enough for 15 people and everyone went crazy for it. I expected it to be really frozen but it was nice a soft and crunchy and just perfect. I topped it with raspberries. I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks! Might be one of the best desserts i’ve ever made.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:37h, 10 June Reply

      I’m so thrilled to hear you and your guests liked it. Yes, the frozen custard is soft. I love the idea of pairing it with raspberries. That would have been delicious.

      Thanks for taking the time to update me. I appreciate it! Good news likes this makes me feel like I was the birthday girl. :-)

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