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Summer Berry Pavlova with Strawberry Syrup and Crystallized Coriander leaves

Berry Pavlova with Stawberry Syrup

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Origin: Everyone loves this impressive dessert, however few seem to pluck up the courage to make it themselves.

Home- made meringue in any form seems to scare off most unseasoned cooks, but once mastered, it is one of the most rewarding recipes to make. The only two skills needed to make the perfect meringue really, are to ensure that your egg whites are absolutely free of any other foreign ingredients, especially a slip of broken egg yolk, and that you know when they have reached soft peak stage.

Separate your eggs one at a time making sure to check that there is no yellow in each one. Keep all the egg yolks aside and use them to make a lovely home- made custard, or perhaps a crème brulee. Add the clean individual egg whites one at a time, straight into your mixing bowl before you add the next. Do listen to me here, as you have no idea how many times on egg 5 or 6, I have snipped the yolk with the shell and a little drizzle of yellow cloud sneaks through into my whites. After much cursing and swearing I dig out all I can and continue, but most times, it results in having to start from scratch!

So if you get the egg separation right you are half way there. Next is to time ‘when the eggs whites are beaten enough’. Under- beaten will result in a flat, runny mixture and overbeating will result in a very dry, cracked Pavlova.

The trick is to beat for 2 minutes or so and then keep on removing the mixer and check if peaks are forming and retaining their peak. Or hold the bowl upside down to see if it stays in the bowl!

This is the end result once all the sugar and other ingredients have been added.

 

Now add half the mixture and create a circular or oval shape

Dollop the remaining meringue around the edge of the base to create a wall around the outside.

If you get this right, the rest is so very easy. My favorite when entertaining is to call on my sixteen year old to whip one up as she has mastered the art, and it literally takes 5 minutes to prepare and will really make you look like a real  Nigella.

You may notice I use the word Pavlova  with a capital ‘P’and that is because it is said that the Pavlova was created in 1935 for a famous ballet dancer, Ana Pavlova. There has been much debate in the past between Australians and New Zealanders, as to whom this National legacy belongs to .I don’t really mind, either way thank goodness for Pavlova. It has made me look like a professional many a time!

PS: the coriander leaves are a little fiddly but worth it as they are sure to raise an eye-brow or two. Who on earth would put Coriander or Dhanya on a desert? Jamie Oliver of course! It is a taste sensation with the sweet fruit. Please try it and let me know your thoughts.

Summer Berry Pavlova with Strawberry syrup and Crystallized Coriander leaves.

(Makes a large Pavlova- feed 8 people- You can add more fruit if you want to pile it up on the base. This will stretch it to feed up to 10)

Meringue base:

6 large egg whites                                                             2 cups of castor sugar

Pinch of salt                                                                       100ml flaked almonds

2 teaspoons of white vinegar                                          2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of Maizena (corn flour)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 oC.
  2. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites, and salt at high speed until soft peaks form.
  3. Add the castor sugar one spoon at a time, beating in between each spoonful.
  4. Dissolve the Maizena in the vanilla and vinegar, and add this to the egg whites.
  5. Line a large baking sheet with greased parchment paper (greased tin foil or wax paper will also work, but for the best results the parchment seems to peel off the base the easiest.)
  6. Spoon about half of the mixture onto the parchment, and flatten with the back of a spoon into a circular shape. The circular base should be about 2 fingers thick. Now dollop spoonfuls of the remaining meringue all the way around the outer edge of the circle. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven, leaving the Pavlova to dry for a further hour before removing to cool.

Crystallized Coriander flakes.

1 bunch of Coriander or Dhanya                   1 egg white                           1 cup Icing sugar

Method:

  1.  Take a bunch of Coriander and tie the stems together with a piece of wet kitchen string.
  2. Dip the bunch into a whisked egg white; shake off the excess and then using a flour sifter, dust with icing sugar. Try and get as much sugar on each leaf as possible.
  3. While the Pavlova is baking, hang the coriander bunch from a hook on one of the side shelf supports in the oven and leave the bunch to ‘dry out’ for a few hours.

 

             

            

         

         

 

Cream topping:

250ml whipping cream                                                  1 teaspoon rose water

Whip the cream just before serving and stir in the rose water before dressing the Pavlova.

Summer Strawberry Syrup:

750 g of seasonal berries (strawberries cut in half, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate jewels)

1 ½ cups of boiling water                                                    1 cupsof sugar

1 or two sticks of cinnamon                                               2-3 star anise

Method:

  1.  In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil and stir the sugar into the water until dissolved
  2. Add the cinnamon stick and star anise for flavor.
  3. Boil for about 10 minutes.
  4. Cut the bigger fruit like strawberries in half, and add all the fruit to the hot syrup.
  5. Leave in the boiling syrup for 1 minute or so, taking care not to stir to much as the delicate fruit will become mushy.
  6. Remove the fruit and set aside to cool.
  7. Continue to boil the syrup for a further 5 – 10 minutes until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  8. Remove and cool both the syrup and the fruit for final serving. (once cooled it should have a syrup consistency that you can pour over the fruit or serve on the side)

Assembly of the Pavlova:

  1.  Place the meringue case onto your serving dish. This is an impressive dish so choose a platter that is somewhat over the top – an old round mirror? An oversized white plate that you can adorn with rose petals?
  2. Spoon the cream into the centre of the Pavlova.
  3. Now add the fruit which should be nicely chilled, and drizzle the syrup over the top.
  4. Take the very dried coriander bunch and rub the sugared leaves between your fingers, breaking the crispy bits over the top of the fruit. Serve immediately.
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