Sunday, 8 August 2010

Meringues for a wedding

...but not on the bride of course. She was radiant and far less conventional in a vintage 40's style dress, leaving these wedding pavlovas to add a touch of gaudy razmatazz to the wedding party instead.

This is an adaptation of a Nigella recipe in Feast. You can always rely on Nigella to give good pudding.

Her version calls for a topping of peach and passionfruit, but as I'm still a little in love with the blackberries in the garden, I indulged myself and piled strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and redcurrants onto a second pavlova. And that's the recipe I give here:

Serves 20

For the meringue ~

8 egg whites
a pinch of salt
475g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflower
2 tsp white wine vinegar

to top ~

150g strawberries
125g raspberries
150g blackberries
100g redcurrants
600ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 dozen red roses

for the sauce ~

200g mixed fruits from above
30g sugar
2 tbsp grand marnier

1) Preheat the oven to 350f/ 180c / gas mark 4. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and trace a 10" circle in pencil.

2) Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large, scrupulously clean bowl until they form soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until you have a thick, glossy bowl of deliciousness. Try not to lick the spoon or your fingers. Oh go on then.

3) Sift over the cornflour, add the vinegar and gently fold in. Spoon onto the paper, staying within the circle, then smooth off the top and sides.

4) Place in the oven and turn down the heat to 300f / 150c / gas mark 2. Bake for 1½ hours then turn off the oven, open the door, and leave the meringue to cool completely.

5) Trim the rose stems down to 2", then dip in melted white chocolate and place on greaseproof paper to set in a cool place. Then half-dip the strawberries into the chocolate and leave to set.

6) Simmer the mixed fruits and sugar in a pan for 10 minutes, then pass through a sieve and add the liquer.

7) Once cooled, run a knife under the meringue to loosen it, then slide carefully onto a plate. Whip the cream to soft peaks and artfully arrange the fruit on top. I like to finish with redcurrants still on the stem, the roses and a drizzle of the luscious sauce.

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