Whenever I have left over egg whites I take the opportunity to make meringues. They are great for several reasons – Firstly they use up the egg whites which otherwise would probably go to waste in our house. Secondly, the meringues keep for ages, which means you have them ready for a party-piece of a quick pudding when someone comes to stay. Thirdly, they are naturally gluten free. And fourthly, they taste fantastic when dressed with fruit and cream or can be used crushed and sprinkled into smoothies, sundaes and other puddings.
Last weekend, I suddenly remembered that I had some meringue discs which I had carefully wrapped in cling film and stored in an airtight container on top of a cupboard. They had been there for some weeks (or was that months?). I have no idea why I had forgotten them, but with my sudden recollection of memory, I decided they had to be used…….
As luck would have it, I also happened to have a load of fresh berries and double cream in the fridge and that could only mean one thing,………. Pavlova!
If you have your meringues already made, Pavlova is a really quick pudding which cannot fail to impress with its amazing contrast of zingy colourful fruit against sweet crunchy, melt-in-the-mouth meringue, and rich, decadent pillows of cream. You can use any combination of soft fruits, but I prefer to use ones which have a sharper tang to off-set the sugary sweetness of the meringue. Raspberries, strawberries and blueberries work really well and together, have such an amazing colour combination that they look incredible against the pale cream and meringue.
Although now a distant memory (the Pavlova has been devoured and the plate washed and put away), I thought I would share this one with you as it was thoroughly delicious. I used (as I always do if I am intending to store meringue), a basic ‘meringue suisse’ recipe which dates back to my school days, as this tends to last longer in storage and holds its crispness better when smothered with fruit and cream.
As I found that I had discs of meringue rather than a traditional Pavlova ‘basket’ shape, I decided to create a layered pavlova, which resulted in an enormous mound of pudding…………….. nonetheless quick to disappear!
I made a fruit compote (from this post) to swirl into the cream, so that each layer had an additional fruity dimension. Then I topped with a drizzle of raspberry sauce for extra zing.
4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 150⁰ C / 300⁰ F / Gas 2
- Prepare trays with baking paper for spreading the meringue mixture into your chosen shapes.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until very stiff and dry.
- When stiff enough, add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition.
- Finally, whisk in the cornflour and vanilla extract. The meringue mix should be glossy and form soft peaks.
- Use immediately to make into discs, baskets, shells, etc
- Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120⁰ C / 250⁰ F / Gas 1/2
- Bake for about 1 1/2 hours until firm and dry. Check from time to time and if there is any indication of browning, turn the oven down a little further until firm and dry.
- Turn off the oven leaving the meringues in there until the oven has completely cooled. Then remove the meringues and either wrap and store in an airtight container, or use immediately.
Raspberry Sauce (taken from Artisanal Gluten Free Cupcakes (2011) – Kelli & Peter Bronski)
80ml cool water
- Mix the water and cornflour together in a medium sized saucepan.
- Add the sugar and raspberries and heat until the mixture comes to the boil.
- Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is clear and slightly thickened.
- Remove from the heat. Use an immersion or standard blender to puree the mixture until smooth.
- Strain the blended sauce through a sieve to remove all the seeds.
- Leave to cool to room temperature.
Putting it all together
- Prepared meringues
- 1 portion of berry compote (from this post)
- 600ml double cream
- 1 portion of raspberry sauce
- A handful of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries (hulled and cut into quarters), blueberries) to top the Pavlova
- Whip the double cream with a whisk until it has a soft dropping consistency and leaves a trail.
- Gently fold in the compote with the cream so that it has a swirled (not fully mixed) effect.
- Place your first meringue layer onto a serving plate and generously dollop and spread a layer of the cream-compote mix on top.
- Top with another meringue layer followed by cream and repeat until you have used all your meringue layers (I had three), ending with a layer of cream.
- Generously pile some fresh berries in the centre of your Pavlova.
- Drizzle raspberry sauce over the top and enjoy!