Deciding on a dessert or, as is most often the case, the plural there-of, is for me the most challenging part of the festive menu. Which is why I make several, maybe more? For traditionalists, there’s always a warm baked pud, a corrupt chocolate tart and, something light and fruity. As wreathing food is customary, I’ll be making a Pavlova and Macaron Wreathe. Besides being one of the easiest desserts to make ahead, it’s also the dessert of choice if you are gluten-intolerant .
Pavlovas need not be precise or fussy. Their free-spirited nature will see them pouf-ing up in the oven before deflating slightly before relaxing into a somewhat craggy crisp shell. To shape the wreathe, huddle the meringue nests side by side to form a white garland. Once baked, make sure it is completely cooled before festooning with coconut macarons and ruby red embellishments.
How to avoid pavlova calamity:
- Make sure the mixing bowl is squeaky clean and grease-free
- Cold, fresh egg whites make the best meringue foam
- Adding a pinch of fine salt to the whites before whisking together
- Vinegar and cornflour stabilise the meringue and aid a chewy interior
- Add the castor sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time
- Baking at a lower temperature ensures a pale meringue colour
- Cool completely in the oven with the door slightly ajar
Pavlova Macaron Wreathe
- 6 egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 300g (1 1/2 cups) castor sugar
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) red wine vinegar
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) cornflour, sifted
- 500ml (2 cups) fresh whipping cream
- 5ml vanilla extract
- 10-12 white macarons
- 1 1/2 cups raspberries and cherries combined
- 250ml (1 cup) fresh berry coulis ( see notes )
- pomegranate arils (optional)
- icing sugar, to finish
- Preheat the oven to 150º C. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Trace a large circle (23-25cm) on one side of the paper. Turn the paper over with the pencil tracing now on the underside.
- Place the egg whites and salt in a large grease-free mixing bowl. Whisk until frothy, then slowly add the castor sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture glossy, add the vanilla and whisk lightly to combine.
- Add the vinegar and cornflour and fold through gently.
- Dollop heaped spoonful measures onto the baking paper following the circle outline. Swirl to shape, making a slight hollow in the centre of each nest.
- Turn the oven down to 110º C and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes. Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Lift the paper carefully from the tray and place on a wire rack to firm up.
- Whisk the cream and vanilla together to soft peak stage. Transfer the pavlova to a serving large serving plate or board. Spoon generous amounts of cream into each hollow. Dust with sifted icing sugar. Drizzle over about a third of the coulis, serving the remainder alongside.
- Finish with macarons, berries and shower with pomegranate arils, if using.
Cook’s note: The macarons are not essential but rather fabulous. I’d love to say I made them myself, but I didn’t. These delicate dainties were made by talented macaron-er, Annette Stonal. If you’d like to order from Annette in future, please contact me via email.
How to make a simple strawberry coulis.
Place 1 cup of sliced strawberries in a saucepan. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a 1/3 cup castor sugar. Bring up to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Strain to remove seeds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
For pavlova lovers:
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