Hot summer days call for cold and refreshing desserts. There’s always ice cream, of course. But a luscious chilled lemon pavê works pretty well too. Chilled layers of lemon-flavored soaked cookies, cream, and a blanket of delicious lemon whipped cream. What’s not refreshing about that?
Today’s recipe is inspired by my neighbor Tammy. For two reasons. First, because Tammy and Carlos have lemon trees in their backyard, and they often give me the excess of their crop. I take the lemons they give me, juice them, and then freeze them in ice trays. I keep the little frozen lemon juice cubes in Ziploc bags in my freezer. They are the reason I have fresh lemon juice year round without having to buy fresh lemons. I used that frozen juice for this recipe and only bought lemons for the zest and garnish.
But the second reason this recipe is inspired by Tammy is that she uses the lemons she keeps to make homemade limoncello. That stuff is really yummy! A little deadly, but super yummy! So, in Tammy’s honor, I include limoncello in this recipe!
Pavê is a classic Brazilian dessert. The Portuguese Wiki page had this to say (with Google translate):
Pavê is a sweet of French origin and its name derives from a word pavage (French), meaning “pavement”, that is, a set of stones and concrete which, in turn, reminds the layers of cream and biscuits or pieces of Cake that makes up the dessert.  More specifically, it is a kind of frozen (or chilled) pie based on whole champagne or cornstarch biscuits or a soft cake dough soaked in juices, liqueurs or gravy and a cream between the layers. It is very popular in Brazil, especially at the time of the end-of-year festivities.
What Brazilians call “champagne biscuits” we would call lady fingers here in the US. What they refer to as “cornstarch biscuits” is a long, oval cookie that tastes just like the popular Maria cookies that you can find in the Hispanic section in your local grocery store. That is what I used for this recipe.
The most popular pavês in Brazil are probably peanut butter pavê and chocolate pavê. But they make pineapple and lemon ones too. And there is really no one single way to make them. Everyone seems to have their own recipe, so I got creative with this one. And since it is lemon-flavored, I gave this whole dish to my Sam. He is a lover of all lemon-flavored desserts.
Let’s Make This Lemon Pavê
This lemon pavê is made in two stages. The first consists of the layers of cookies and cream.
The second stage is the lemon-flavored whipped cream. You’ll add the zest from the lemon to the whipped cream as well.
Start by making the cream for the base layers.
Whip the egg whites on medium high until they form stiff peaks. It took about 2 minutes with my upright mixer.
Then add the lemon juice, media crema, and sweetened condensed milk. Whip until the it thickens into a semi-soft cream. About 3-4 minutes.
Mix the milk and the limoncello together. Keep in mind that limoncello contains alcohol, although this recipe does not use too much of it. It really has negligible impact to the finished dessert. If you don’t care to use limoncello, you can add a drop or two of lemon extract, although that contains alcohol as well.
Then immerse cookies completely in the milk mixture, removing them immediately so they do not become soggy. I prefer to do them one at a time. Line the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ dish. Place the soaked cookies side by side. (I went back and tucked in those two runaways after shooting this picture.)
Add half of the prepared cream mixture over the soaked cookies.
Then add another layer of soaked cookies over the cream
Top the second layer with the remainder of the cream mixture.
Cover and refrigerate the base layers for a couple hours so that they firm up a bit. Then make the lemon whipped cream.
When I make homemade whipped cream, I first place the bowl and whisk attachment of my upright mixer in the freezer for about 10 minutes. That helps make the cream thicken more quickly.
Whip the cream and powdered sugar until the cream has reached the consistency of a thick syrup, then add the limoncello and lemon juice.
Keep whipping until the cream is very thick and clumps in the whisk attachment.
Then add the zest of one medium-sized lemon and fold it into the whipped cream.
Spread the lemon whipped cream over the chilled pavê base. Cover and return the dish to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
You can add thin lemon slices as a pretty garnish. It not only adds a pop of color, but it will also clue in your friends and family that this is a lemon-flavored dessert.
You’ve got your creamy cookie layers and that fluffy whipped cream. A chilled, luscious burst of lemon flavor in every bite! So refreshing! And and not too sweet. Just exactly how I love my summer desserts. I enjoyed this one piece so much, I was glad Sam took the rest of the dish. Too much temptation!
Try some lemon pavê. I’m sure you’ll love it!
- FOR THE BASE
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup limoncello
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cans crema media
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 8 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons limoncello
- Zest of one medium lemon
- Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Then add the lemon juice, condensed milk and media crema.
- Continue whipping until it thickens to a semi soft cream.
- In a small bowl, mix the milk and the limoncello.
- Submerge the cookies in the milk mixture and then remove immediately. Do not soak the cookies or they will dissolve.
- Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" Pyrex (or other dish with raised sides) completely in a single layer of moistened cookies.
- Pour half of the lemon cream mixture over the moistened cookies and spread evenly.
- Add a second layer of moistened cookies on top of the lemon cream.
- Top the second layer of cookies with the remaining cream.
- Cover the dish and refrigerate for about two hours.
- Discard the remaining milk and limoncello mixture.
- Place the bowl and whisk attachment of a mixer in the freezer for at least 5-10 minutes before making the lemon whipped cream for the topping.
- When the pavê is chilled, prepare the whipped cream.
- Add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to the chilled bowl.
- Whip until the cream is the consistency of a heavy syrup.
- Add the lemon juice and limoncello.
- Mix until the whipped cream is very thick and starts to clump.
- Zest one lemon and fold the zest into the whipped cream.
- Top the pavê base with the whipped topping.
- Garnish with thin slices of lemon.
- Serve cold and refrigerate again immediately.