This is a nod to my old pal and workmate N. If there was a birthday or a reason to celebrate, this wonder appeared. She also made all things better in our office by appearing with this at other times too. It is just delish. I love to use golden caster sugar as it makes the meringues creamy and golden looking.
A couple of pointers when making pavlova: Make sure your bowl and tools are completely clean and grease free. It may seem an obvious point but any leftover butter will spoil your meringue. Let your meringue cool in the oven too, so if you have other items on your menu, plan accordingly! Finally, fill at the last minute if at all possible. Eat immediately – this is never usually a problem.
4 egg whites, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Begin by drawing a 20cm circle on a piece of baking parchment and place on a cookie sheet. This will be your outline for your pavlova. Preheat your oven to 120c
If you would like to make individual nests that serve one generously, draw 4 inch circles on parchment paper – I can usually get around six out of this quantity.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff in a stand mixer (or with a handheld electric whisk) then beat in the caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Follow with the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornflour.
Spoon the mix onto the circle of parchment and make a slight indentation in the middle. Bake for 1 hour until firm. If you are making the individual mini(ish) versions, they will bake at 120c for 30 minutes before you turn off the oven and let them cool. Either way, after the time, turn off the oven and let the meringue cool in the oven with the door closed this prevents too much cracking
Here are a few ideas for fillings:
A selection of berries marinated in 2 tblsp of balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp of brown sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. I used raspberries, cherries, blueberries and strawberries. I filled the nests with half whipped cream and half greek yoghurt and topped with the berries
Sliced mango and strawberries with basil and a teeny squeeze of lime. Again, I used equal parts greek yoghurt and whipped cream.
And my current favourite: roast apple with hazelnut and maple syrup. Inspired by a Diana Henry recipe, I roasted peeled cored apple halves sprinkled with brown sugar at 190c for 20 minutes, removing them from the oven and drizzling them with a little maple syrup and letting them cool. When cool, dice them any way you want, they don’t need to be uniform. Again fill the nests with a mix of whipped cream and greek yoghurt and a touch of maple syrup. Top with the diced apple and a little of the maple/apple juices and sprinkle with some toasted hazelnuts. Heavenly.