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Simple – and gorgeous. Perfect dessert for Christmas Day or any time of year. And what’s more important – small meringues are much easier to bake than a whole big Pavlova.
I’ve had some notable disasters with the Big One. My oven is a little capricious (serious understatement) and it doesn’t like baking things evenly, it insists on having its middle not quite as hot as the sides. So one time I was ambitiously planning on doing a full-on Pavlova gateau, but after a longish spell in the oven the edges were turning nasty brown and the middle was still almost raw. Running out of time, in desperation I thought I might try and finish it off in a microwave! Genius, no?
NO. DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME.
The meringue erupted quite violently, Vesuvius-style, then rapidly went completely black and the stink couldn’t be rid of for hours. A quick trip to the supermarket with my tail between my legs ended the endeavours.
So since then I’ve stuck to mini Pavlovas, reassuring myself that they’re dainty, people can only have one so won’t be feeling too overindulgent and there’s no palaver with cutting the gateau.
What you put on pavlovas is everyone’s flight of fancy – cream needs to be whipped without sugar and the decorating fruit might be enlivened with a bit of puree or coulis drizzled over. My three suggestions are below – but to be honest, you can’t whack raspberries.
- For the meringues (makes 10):
- 110g egg whites (three large eggs)
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 200g caster sugar
- For the topping:
- 250ml double cream
- fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- 2-3 passion fruit
- a few lychees
- a handful of pomegranate seeds
- pomegranate molasses (optional)
- a little icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 100C/220F/gas ¼. Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment and draw 10cm circles on them, using a pint glass as a marker.
Place the egg whites in a very clean bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or a standing mixer with a balloon whisk until they start to foam. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed. Keep on until soft peaks start forming.
Start adding the sugar to the egg whites slowly by a spoonful, beating continuously. It should take at least 10-15 minutes to add the whole amount of sugar, by then the meringue will be stiff and glossy.
Spoon the mix onto the marked circles using two spoons, then get a clean slightly wet spoon and press down in the middle of each pile to make the nest. Tidy it up a bit by running the back of the spoon around the sides.
Bake for 1 ½ hour until completely dry but not coloured. Leave them in the switched off oven until cool, then dry them out further on the parchment sheets on a wire rack.
While the meringues are baking, prepare the toppings. Whip the cream to soft peaks and keep chilled. When the meringues are cold, pipe or spoon a nice dollop of cream into each nest.
For the passion fruit pavlovas, simply halve the fruits and scoop out the flesh, mash a little with a fork and pile on the whipped cream. Decorate with peeled and stoned lychees halves.
For the pomegranate pavlovvas, scoop or shake out a handful of pomegranate seeds and pile on the whipped cream. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses, if using.
For the raspberry pavlovas, mash half the raspberries with a fork, add the icing sugar and pass through a sieve to get rid of the pips. Decorate the pavlovas with whole raspberries and drizzle over with the raspberry puree.