It looks pretty in the photo… but hell its a monster. Once the meringue was on the baking sheets, it really didn’t look that huge I promise. But slather on a tub of double cream and a whole load of fruit and… it. just. keeps. getting. bigger.
I love Pavlova; sticky sweet meringue enrobed in soft whipped cream and fresh berries. This and Banoffee Pie rank very highly in my favourite home desserts. I especially love Pavlova because, for me, it’s a celebration dessert. You don’t just make this on a random Tuesday, it’s always crowning the table in all its glory at a family get together or celebration. (It’s so easy though, it can be done during the working week. Individual meringue mounds rather than one massive pavlova? Skip the roasting/macerating and just go for fresh berries to speed up the process.)
I take particular joy in the first scoop that’s taken; the sound of the crisp meringue cracking (which kind of sounds like taking a step on fresh snow) and random escaping berries trying to flee all over the table. Pavlova fits into every season well. Just by changing the fruit you pair it with, it can be enjoyed throughout the year. I layered mine with roasted nectarines and pistachios, macerated strawberries and fresh cherries and raspberries.
I really wanted to make rippled meringue by using fruit puree to create swirls of red colour. However, after one very soggy meringue that never cooked, I decided the fruit puree was a bad idea. After complaining to my mum about the ‘stupid bloody meringue’, she suggested I used Beetroot Powder. I added 2 tbsp. of beetroot powder to my meringue and folded in. It look so beautiful; light pink meringue with ribbons of darker pink running through. Sadly though, as you can see, during baking the colour basically disappeared. The beetroot powder didn’t do much to the taste of the meringue apart from taking some of the sweetness out, which is quite good when you have sweetened berries and cream to go with it.
So, it made a cool photo and looked pretty, but next time I’ll turbo boot the amount of powder added and hopefully I’ll be able to report back and give you a cool rippled meringue recipe. Ingredients – serves 8 large portions
- 200g egg white (approx. 7 large egg whites)
- 400g caster sugar (plus 45g for double cream)
- 450g double cream
- 100g pistachios
- 3 ripe nectarines
- 3 tbsp. honey
- A handful each of: raspberries, pitted cherries and strawberries
- 1 tbsp. Cointreau
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- squeeze of lemon juice
- Pre-heat the oven to 140C/ 120C fan/gas 1 and line two baking trays with baking paper. Roughly draw an 8 inch circle on each piece of paper and turn over so that the pencil side is down.
- Take an electric mixer bowl and pour in your egg whites. It’s very important that the bowl is bone dry and has no grease inside. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and begin to whisk the egg whites. Mix on high for 3-4 minutes until stiff. Start adding in the sugar gradually while the mixer is still whisking the whites. Wait a few seconds after each addition so that the sugar can incorporate before the next.
- Once all of the sugar is added, continue to whisk on high-speed until the meringue is thick and glossy (about 5 minutes.) Take a small amount of meringue on your fingertip and place a dot on each corner of the baking trays to secure the paper down. Now take a spatula and divide the meringue onto each tray equally. Push the meringue out to make a mounded circle. Bake for 1 hour and remove from the oven. Leave to cool completely.
Preparing the fruit
- To roast the pistachios: place on a baking tray and roast at 160C for approx. 5 minutes. Once cool, roughly chop the pistachios ready for assembling.
- To roast the Nectarines: Place quartered pieces of nectarine on a baking tray and drizzle with honey. Roast at 160C for approx. 10 minutes, drizzling more honey as needed. Leave to cool for assembling.
- To macerate the strawberries: Place quartered pieces of strawberry into a bowl and add in the icing sugar, Cointreau and lemon juice. Mix this until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and leave to macerate for no longer than 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the stone from the cherries and leave the raspberries whole.
- Place the double cream and 45g of caster sugar into a bowl and whisk to soft peaks.
- Place one of the meringue discs onto the serving plate and smooth over half of the whipped cream. Layer a variety of the prepared fruit and nuts over the top, leaving over half of them for the top.
- Next, put the second meringue disk on top of the fruit/cream.
- Finish with the rest of the whipped cream and arrange the leftover fruit and nuts on top. Dust with icing sugar if desired.