There are a few desserts that just scream summer alfresco dining to me, and one of those is a Pavlova! A true staple of British dining tables up and down the country in the summer months, Pavlovas are much easier to make than you'd think and just as delicious as you remember. Nothing beats the oh-so-satisfying combination of crunchy meringue, silky cream, and sweet fruit.
5 egg whites
600ml double cream
200g strawberries, hulled and halved
Flesh from half a mango, in 1cm cubes
Torn fresh mint leaves
You will need:
A microplane or fine grater
Large baking sheet, lined with baking paper
Piping bag with a large star nozzle
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Draw an A4-sized rectangle (make it easy for yourself and use a piece of A4 paper as a guide) on the baking paper that lines the baking sheet. This will be the guide for the size of your meringue.
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a large, metal mixing bowl and whisk to stiff peaks using a handheld electric mixer. Many people whisk the whites to medium peaks and then add the sugar, but I like to add the sugar only when the whites are stiff. Continue whisking on a medium speed and add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking for five seconds or so after each addition and resisting the temptation to hurry the process. Once the sugar is well incorporated, your meringue should be stiff and very glossy. If you're feeling brave, tip the bowl upside down over your head and if it doesn't fall out, it's ready!
- Spoon two-thirds of the meringue on to the baking paper and spread into the A4 outline. Put the remaining meringue in the piping bag and pipe little peaks all the way round the edge of the meringue - this will help to keep your fruit and cream from slopping over the side. This part of the recipe can get a bit messy (especially if you have small helpers), so I'd highly recommend wearing an apron!
- Pop the meringue in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 130°C/gas mark 1/2. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, then turn off the oven but leave the meringue inside for at least two hours, or preferably overnight, with the door slightly ajar.
- To make the topping, whisk the cream until soft, floppy peaks form and spoon over the meringue. Do this minutes before serving so that the meringue stays crispy and chewy, and the cream is lovely and cold. Place the prepared fruits on top, and finish by garnishing with the mint leaves and grating the dark chocolate all over.