Christmas is right around the corner and for me, it is a time filled with food and family. It was actually during a Christmas one year in Italy where I perfected my pavlova – my Italian 'family' absolutely loved the dessert and requested it for any occasion.
Pavlova not only looks amazing at the centre of the table, but it is the perfect end to a Christmas feast. It is light and fresh, and just what you want on a warm Summer’s day! Make sure you cool the pavlova shell completely in the oven, otherwise it will most likely sink. Use which ever fruits you have available to you but keep it to just two or three kinds – other beautiful additions could be lychees, raspberries or papaya!
1 banana, peeled and thinly sliced
1 mango, flesh thinly sliced
Pulp from 2-3 passionfruit
1/4 cup flaked coconut
5 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 scant tbsp cornflour
2tsp white vinegar
Zest of 1 lime
COCONUT CRÈME FRAÎCHE
300g crème fraîche
300g pure cream
1tsp coconut flavour extract or essence
1. Preheat oven to 120C. Line a round tray with baking paper and set aside.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
3. Gradually add the sugar, 1tbsp at a time, until mixture is stiff and glossy and all sugar has dissolved. It is really important that there aren't any sugar granules in the meringue, so take a little of the mixture and rub it between two fingers to check. Continue to beat if it hasn't completely dissolved, then check again. Gently stir in the cornflour, vinegar and lime zest.
4. Pile the meringue on to the baking sheet and spread into a circle, around 25cm in diameter.
Keep the sides high and create a slight dip in the middle.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 2 hours. It should be crisp on the outside but not
coloured. Allow to cool in the oven for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. Gently transfer
cooled pavlova to a serving dish or store in an airtight container.
6. Meanwhile, whip the crème fraîche and cream in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add
the coconut flavour extract and continue to whip until just becoming stiff, being careful not to
over whip. You want soft billowy mounds of cream, not a super stiff mixture.
7. Pile the cream onto the pavlova shell and top with the banana, mango, passionfruit pulp and
coconut flakes. Serve immediately.