Finally December has arrived, heralding the start of Winter. And with it a month of festive planning, carols by candlelight and sellotape everywhere! Since, here at home, we also celebrate two birthdays this month, the celebrating can seem never ending. Because there’s only so much cake you can eat, isn’t there? Fear not, because this gluten free Winter Fruit Topped Pavlova is the perfect celebratory dessert.
Tips For The Perfect Pavlova:
For me, Pavlovas always feel like such an elegant dessert. Yet they are simple to make as long as a few basic rules are followed. And they cannot, must not and should not be rushed. Either during the whisking or baking stage. While whisking, all of the sugar must be given time to dissolve in the egg white, otherwise it will leak out during cooling and the meringue will collapse. Likewise, once baked the pavlova should be left to cool slowly, preferably in the oven as it also cools down. As a result of rushing this stage the meringue structure is likely to crack badly.
Please do not let the previous advice discourage you from making a pavlova. Rather I hope it has the opposite effect and encourages you. Take an extra five minutes (that’s 5 minutes not forever!) to ensure the meringue is properly mixed. Another tip is to bake the Pavlova in the evening, leaving it in the oven overnight to cool. And then the meringue can cool slowly overnight without tying up the oven.
And if the meringue does crack, it will be covered with whipped cream and fruit. While no one ever need know!
Recipe: Winter Fruit Topped Pavlova serves 8
4 Large Free Range Egg Whites
200g/7oz Caster Sugar
Juice of half a Lemon
400ml Double Cream (Heavy Cream)
1tsp Vanilla Bean Paste – I use Nielsen-Massey
4 Fresh Figs – cut into quarters
300g Frozen Blackberries – I buy them from Waitrose
1-2 Fresh Pomegranates – seeds removed
Optional – Fresh Mint to garnish
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, 350F, gas mark 4
Making the meringue base:
- First of all draw an 8in/20cm circle on to a piece of baking parchment. Turn the paper over and place on to a baking tray.
- Wipe around the inside of a very clean, large bowl with half a lemon.
- Add four eggs white to the bowl and the juice of half a lemon.
- Whisk the egg whites until they form a stiff peak.
- Continue whisking on a medium speed, slowly adding one tablespoon of sugar at a time to the egg whites.
- When all of the sugar is added the mixture should be thick and glossy. Rub a little of the meringue between your finger and thumb, if it feels gritty continue to whisk. Check again after a couple of minutes. As soon as it feels smooth and silky it is ready.
- Remove a small amount of the meringue and use it as glue to stick the baking parchment to the baking tray.
- Spoon the meringue mixture on to the baking parchment, inside the circle.
- Use a palette knife to shape the meringue into a disc, building up the outside edge.
Baking the meringue:
- Place the meringue into the centre of the oven and bake at the preheated temperature for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 120C/100C fan, 250F, gas mark 1/2 and continue to bake for 1 hour.
- Do not open the oven during baking.
- As soon as the baking time has elapsed turn off the oven and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven.
- Once cooled remove the meringue from the oven.
Filling and decorating the Pavlova:
- Pour the cream into a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste.
- Whip the cream until it is thick but not stiff.
- Carefully run a palette knife between the meringue and baking parchment.
- Place the meringue on to a plate or cake stand.
- Spoon the whipped cream on to the meringue.
- Add the figs and blackberries. Finally sprinkle over with pomegranate seeds.
- Garnish with fresh mint.
Fill and decorate the Pavlova 1-2 hours prior to serving. So that the blackberries can defrost.
To serve, cut the Pavlova into slices and use a cake knife to transfer to a dessert plate.
The meringue pavlova base can be made a day in advance. Once filled and decorated keep the Pavlova refrigerated and away from strong smells. The Pavlova will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Winter Fruit Topped Pavlova you may also like these:
With a crisp outer shell and marshmallow centre Pavlovas are a delicious dessert. Since they can be filled with many different combinations of fruit they are perfect for using seasonal or frozen fruit. While in this recipe the meringue has a whipped cream filling, see my Raspberry Topped Lemon Curd Pavlova for an alternative filling. Also all Pavlova recipes here on Feasting is Fun are gluten free (please see individual recipes for recommendations). As a result this dessert is a festive winter feast that more people can enjoy.
So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens at this festive time, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.
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