Last Friday my parents and grandma came over for dinner. I needed a dessert that could mostly be prepared ahead, didn’t require much cooking on the night (as I’d be working all day), and was quite light – to follow a big course of fish and chips!
Still having a lot of eggs left and after a big success a few weeks ago – meringue seemed like the perfect solution.
So the pavlova idea came about – and I didn’t know it originated in New Zealand. As complicated it as it may seem, it really only takes 4 very simple steps.
1. Giant meringue
To make this size of meringue, i used 4 egg whites and 200g of caster sugar. You can see method I used, as before, here.
To bake, I drew around a large dinner plate on a sheet of greaseproof to give me a rough idea of the shape to make into, and gave it a quick spray with cake-release (I’d really recommend this, the paper will literally fall off the meringue after baking, otherwise it can be a bit tricky and your meringue may end up breaking).
I spooned the meringue mixture into shape, using a spatula to create a rim near the edge in which the rest of the ingredients would sit.
It baked in the oven at 140 degrees celsius for an hour, after which I switched the oven off and left the meringue in to completely cool overnight. Again I’d recommend this – because of the moist toppings, you really want a crunchy, crispy meringue base.
When you take it out of the oven, don’t be tempted to put it in the fridge. This will make it go soft. Instead leave it in the oven if you’re not using it, keep it in an airtight container, or, failing all else, carefully out it onto a plate and cover with a clean, dry tea towel, storing somewhere cool.
2. Whipped cream
I found a 300ml pot of double cream was the perfect amount for this size of pavlova. It took about 3-4 minutes to whip, using my stand mixer on a high speed.
If you wanted to make a lower fat version, an alternative such as creme fraiche or even yoghurt would still work well.
3. Fresh fruit
Take your pick! Whatever is in season, or anything else you fancy! Bananas, kiwis, cherries… Anything would work really. I used a big pile of fresh (hulled) strawberries and raspberries.
4. Dark chocolate ganache (optional)
A big thank you to Moo’s Pantry for teaching me that ganache doesn’t have to be made with cream.
For this I melted 75g dark chocolate with 20g butter, then in a separate pan boiled 75ml semi-skimmed milk with 50g caster sugar. Once the milk and sugar mix was boiling, I poured over the chocolate and butter mix, stirred well, and boiled for another 1-2 minutes.
By making this before I served the main course, it had time to cool and thicken slightly before I assembled the dessert.
Assembly is just as simple, everything in the order above, no need for neatness, patterns etc, just pile it all up! Add the ganache just before you serve so guests can see it running down the fruit and meringue as it’s cut.
I gave Rob the slightly daunting task of cutting it up without the meringue breaking – and he did a pretty great job (using a cake slice to take the pieces out helped a lot).
It was met with a Round of approval yums and wows… And between the 5 f us, was quickly demolished!