Nigella likes to refer to this recipe as a prodigious pavlova, I like the idea of describing it as this as it means remarkably or impressively great in extent & size and trust me it is. The first time I made this I was a little overwhelmed at just how much meringue you have, but it makes the most dense, fluffy cloud, most marshmallow like meringue I have ever had. It's a true show off and party piece and perfect for any occasion.
I made this at Christmas with passion fruit & a raspberry coulis, as seasonal berries were out of the question, I have also made it with gorgeous fresh English strawberries, you can dress it up how ever and with what ever takes your fancy and I promise you will not be disappointed. Mine of course always comes with a sprinkle of glitter.
Jasmine (Nonna) always had the most remarkable skill with meringue, one I thought I would never have as there is a bit of a myth around meringue that they are hard to make and it's been many years before I had the experience to give meringue a go, but hey they are easy, trust me, give it a go and you may surprise yourself.
Anyway this recipe is perfect for any occasion and will never fail to impress.
For the meringue :
8 egg whites
500g caster sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
650ml double cream (I always add a couple of spoons of icing sugar to sweeten when whipping as you know I have a very sweet tooth)
300g raspberries (fresh or frozen are fine)
25g icing sugar
Just to remind you that the above topping is just a suggestion, use what ever you like, what ever is in season, or just what ever you can get hold of. I am making a rose water and rose petal one for Rosie's birthday this year and have been thinking about making a tinned pineapple or tinned peach one in the winter when fresh berries are out of the question. Anything goes.
Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment and draw a rough 25cm diameter circle on it; round a cake tin or dinner plate works well.
Whisk the egg whites until satiny peaks form, then whisk in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Sprinkle the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract over the egg white, and fold in lightly with a metal spoon. Mound the meringue on to the baking parchment within the circle and, using a spatula, flatten the top and smooth the sides.
Put in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 120c/gas 1/2. Cook for an hour. Then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely. Once it's cool, take the meringue disc out - and you can keep it in an airtight container for a couple of days or freeze for a month.
When you are ready to assemble the pavlova, invert the cool meringue disc onto a large plate or stand you can serve it on, and peel off the baking parchment.
Whip the cream until thickened but still soft, and pile onto the meringue - on the squidgy part that was stuck to the baking parchment - spreading it to the edges in a swirly fashion.
If you are dressing with fruit of your own choice, you just pile it, or arrange it nicely, entirely up to you onto the cream and your done, if however you are following the Nigella recipe, please continue.
Cut the passionfruit in half, and scoop out the seeds, and any pulp and juice, into a bowl. I must add here that Nigella also adds 10 fresh or canned lychees, I'm not sure how many people actually like them, so left them out of mine, but hey its up to you if you love them, add them, after all, cooking is about tinkering with recipes to make them your. Leave the passionfruit sitting in their bowl for a moment, while, you liquidize the raspberries with the icing sugar in a blender.
Dollop the cream-topped pavlova with the passionfruit and lychees (if using), and their juices, then zig-zag some raspberry sauce over top, putting the rest into a small jug for people to add to their slices as they eat.
I have to apologise the the Domestic Goddess (Nigella) here, but I am sorry but it doesn't look as pretty as my strawberry one above, but it does taste truly scrumptious.