Fresh Berry Pavlova with Lemon Whipped Cream

Individual berry pavlova

My spring time love for combining sweet, juicy berries with tart lemon is still going strong. I made these light and luscious pavlovas miniature sized so each guest could have their own little cloud come dessert time. Pavlova is naturally gluten free, so it was a perfect ending to a recent gluten free pasta party I hosted (more on that in another post!).

Pavlova is a lovely dessert made from a light but crisp meringue shell, filled with a rich cream and topped with fresh fruits. It gets it’s name from Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, as it was a dish created in her honor. Sweet, beautiful, and lighter than air, it is a befitting dish for a famous ballerina.


For meringue shells:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (needed to keep the meringue tender, you’ll never taste it!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For lemon curd:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from the lemons you juiced (I used 3 big lemons, the juiciness of your lemons may vary!)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter – cold

For serving:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Fresh berries and mint leaves


Begin by making the meringue shells. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat and set aside. Heat your oven to 250 (yes, 250 – not 350) degrees F. Place egg whites in a very clean mixer bowl with the whip attachment and beat until stiff peaks form. Meringue tips; fat prevents egg whites from whipping up, so make sure that the bowl and whisk are not greasy at all. The whites are at the stiff peak phase when you can see the mixer trails through the meringue, and if you life up the whisk, it will hold a stiff peak like this:

What does stiff peaks look likeIt will hold this shape long enough for you to carry it to another room with better lighting and take it’s picture 🙂

Now, combine the sugar and corn starch, and with the mixer running, add it slowly to the stiff egg whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla and turn up the speed to high for a few seconds to get it well incorporated.

Now we need to make little nest shapes on the prepared cookie sheet with this lovely meringue. I placed big spoonfuls down and then used a spoon to make a hollow in the center. You could also use a piping bag. If you want to make one big pavlova instead of individual ones, put all the meringue on the sheet and shape it with a spoon.  Bake for 50 minutes (may take up to 60 if making one large pavlova).

pavlova shells ready for the oven

While the shells are baking, make the lemon curd. Combine all ingredients except the butter in the top of a double boiler, and cook, whisking frequently until the mixture is getting thick (about 7-10 minutes). Remove from the heat. If the lemon curd seems a bit lumpy, you can press it through a fine meshed sieve. Immediately start stirring in the cold butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter is melted, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

gluten free spring dessert

When you’re ready to assemble your pavlovas (only do this up to 1 or 2 hours prior to serving), whip the cup of cream with a tablespoons of sugar. Gently fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream. Place a meringue shell onto a plate, spoon in a big dollop of lemon cream and top with fresh berries and mint leaves.

Summer dessert

Serve, and enjoy the wonderful combination of texture of the crisp meringue, airy cream, and juicy fruits!

Jillian Cupcake


Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut butter brownies

Confession time, I have a major peanut butter obsession. I’ve never met a peanut butter dish I didn’t like. Milkshake? Cookie? Sandwich? Oatmeal? Straight from the jar with a spoon? Oh heck yes to all of them. So when I was thinking of what to make to take to a friend’s BBQ, I knew peanut butter had to be involved.

These rich, fudgy flourless brownies would be delicious on their own, but I wanted to take them to the next level. I made a thick peanut butter filling to layer on top, and then poured on a layer of glossy chocolate ganache. The end result is an intensely chocolatey-peanut buttery bite.


For brownies

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt

For peanut butter filling

  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

For chocolate ganache

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper or foil that comes up the sides as well. Then spray with cooking spray or rub with butter. You really don’t want these to get stuck to the pan! This way you can lift it out of the pan with the parchment or foil.  Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F.

For the brownies, in the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In another bowl, or your mixer, mix the eggs with the sugar. Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture while stirring. Add the vanilla and salt and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

For the peanut butter filling, beat the butter and peanut butter together until totally smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat well. Set aside.

For the chocolate ganache, melt the chocolate with the cream, either in the top of a double boiler, or in the microwave by 30 second intervals. Stir well.

To assemble, wait until the brownies are completely cool. Put them in the refrigerator if you’re short on time, but make sure they are cooled.

Peanut butter filled gluten free brownies

Spread the peanut butter filling over the brownies. Try to keep an even layer, and make sure to get the filling all the way to the edges.

Chocolate ganache topped brownies

Then, pour that beautiful chocolate ganache over the top of the peanut butter. Spread it evenly with a spatula. Refrigerate the whole thing for at least an hour.

Gluten free brownies

Lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil, and slice into squares. Be warned, these are crazy rich and delicious, you may want to cut small squares!

Peanut butter filled brownies

Enjoy this intense chocolate peanut butter experience!

Jillian Cupcake

Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

I welcomed the official start of Spring by walking to the farmer’s market to pick out the delicious ingredients for this coffee cake. The tartness of the lemon mixed with the sweetness of the berries, and the vanilla notes from the cake make for a wonderful start to the day! I made a simple coffee […]

[Continue reading...]

Lazy Day Desserts: Lucky Charms Cereal Treats

Sometimes, you need a whole lot of dessert and you need it quick. Like, for example, when you’re going to a 20 person BBQ at a friend’s house on Saturday after a long week at work. Sometimes, you also need to not turn on your oven because it’s 90 degrees outside when it’s not even […]

[Continue reading...]

Girl Scout Cookies: Tagalong Milkshake

Thin Mints and Samoas seem to get all the Girl Scout Cookie love and attention, but my favorite is neither of these. This indulgent milkshake is all about my favorite cookie:the Tagalong. The creamy, chocolate coated, peanut butter filled cookie is perfection. Ingredients: 1 pint of high quality chocolate ice cream, slightly softened 1/4 cup […]

[Continue reading...]

Girl Scout Cookies: Thin Mint Ice Cream

Girl Scout Cookie season is brilliantly timed. Once everyone is done with their crazed, January induced, fitness plans and is feeling really hungry, adorable girl scouts appear on every corner and knock on your door with the most delicious cookies in the world. Very clever Girl Scouts, very clever. I am defenseless against cute children […]

[Continue reading...]

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate covered strawberries: luxurious, rich, decadent,delicious… What could make them even better? How about a whole cake inspired by them? I combined rich chocolate cake layers with luscious strawberry Swiss meringue frosting, and topped the whole thing off with a robe of melted chocolate and a ring of strawberries. Fresh Strawberry Frosting (Inspired by Sweetapolita) […]

[Continue reading...]

Leftover Candy? Make Candy Bark!

Maybe you hosted a Valentine’s Day party last weekend with a candy bar, or maybe you have little ones coming home with grab bags full of conversation hearts, or maybe you just can’t resist a good post-holiday candy sale. Whatever the reason, it’s a real possibility that you are finding yourself in a leftover candy […]

[Continue reading...]

Valentine Throw Pillow Covers with Pom Pom Trim

Cute seasonal throw pillows always seemed like a great idea, but I had always thought that they would be too impractical. “Where will I store all these extra pillows in my tiny apartment?” “They’re so expensive!” And then I discovered the beauty of the DIY envelope back pillow cover, and everything changed. It’s actually very […]

[Continue reading...]

Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Cake

I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage style decorated cakes. Maybe it’s fond childhood memories of snagging the corner slice of birthday cake bedecked in buttercream roses, or my love of all things pink and lacy. Or maybe it’s just an appreciation of laboriously handcrafted goods, because good-golly-miss-molly all that piping was […]

[Continue reading...]