Pavlovas with Oranges & Cherries

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This makes eight small pavlovas, but if you want one big one, just double the amounts and extend the cooking time by 10 minutes. The egg yolks can be used for making custard, or chocolate ice cream, or they can be added to an omelette. If you are making a large pavlova, pile all the meringue into the centre of your lined baking tray and pat it out to about a 28 cm (11 inch) circle, smoothing the middle of the top where your cream and fruit will sit. If you want to make 16 small pavlovas, use two baking trays and switch them around in the oven halfway through the baking time. And, if you want to, you can make them even smaller for children and get more out of the mixture. I like this with oranges and cherries but you can put pretty much any fruit on top with the cream. A few chopped pistachios always look good, as well.

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Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 230 g(8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon apple or white wine cider

To Serve

  • 2 oranges
  • 24 cherries
  • 250 ml(9 fl oz/1 cup) whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing (confectioners’) sugar, plus some for serving

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl and, once they form white peaks and start stiffening, add the cornflour. Begin adding the sugar, sprinkling it in a bit at a time, and keep whisking until you have added it all and everything seems like it may climb out of the bowl on its own. Whisk in the vanilla and vinegar.

Use two tablespoons to form the meringues on the baking tray — make eight rounded piles that are about 10 cm(4 inches) across, although you could make them a bit taller, slimmer or more elegant if you like. Flatten the tops slightly, so that your cream and fruit will have somewhere to sit, and smooth around the sides with the back of a teaspoon. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes or so (check after 10 minutes and lower the temperature a little if the meringues are colouring). Switch off the oven and leave the pavlovas in for 30–40 minutes to cool, then remove them from the oven to cool completely. You can then store them in a tin at room temperature for up to 5 days until you are ready to serve them.

To serve, peel the oranges with a sharp knife, taking off all the pith. Cut out the segments by slicing down either side of the membranes. Halve the cherries and remove the stones. Whip the cream and icing sugar until peaks form, spoon onto the pavlovas and scatter with cherries and oranges. Dust with icing sugar to serve.