I live for a good pavlova - or pav as I like to affectionately call it. I can't quite describe the joy of cracking into that thin,crisp outer shell and being greeted with a chewy marshmallow like interior, piled high billowy cream and fresh fruit. Yes. It's firmly up there in one of my top three desserts and is often a go to pudding when the I have the girls round for dinner.
The meringue is the trickiest part to get right but also the most forgiving; any cracks or breakages can be artfully hidden under plenty of whipped cream without anyone noticing. Some sort of electric whisk is a must here, whether that's handheld or a stand mixer. Make sure your bowl is squeaky clean as any traces of fat or grease will cause your meringue to deflate into a miserable pool. A pavlova lends itself as one of those puddings that can be made a day in advance which is always handy. Make them the evening before and leave them in the oven to dry out overnight. Just add your cream and toppings right before you’re ready to serve.
Whilst a classic pav tends to be adorned with a simple whipped cream and an array of summer berries, I’ve opted for something a little more unexpected. I absolutely adore tahini and use it regularly both in sweet and savoury dishes. That nutty and almost earthy taste beautifully balances the sweetness of the meringue and really complements the juicy nectarines perched on top. Peaches or apricots would also work well here too if that's easier to get your hands on.
R E C I P E
Half a lemon
145g Egg Whites (approximately from 5 medium eggs)
280g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Cornflour
4-6 Ripe Nectarines, quartered and stoned
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Whipped Tahini Cream
400ml Double Cream
2 tbsp Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Tahini
Handful Chopped Blanched Hazelnuts
M E T H O D
Preheat the Oven to 100C/Gas Mark 1/2 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Before making the meringue, wipe your bowl with the lemon to get rid of any grease. Start whisking the meringues on a low speed for a minute to allow small bubbles to form.
Increase the speed on your stand mixer or handheld whisk until your egg whites form stiff peaks. Keep whisking whilst you add in the sugar a spoonful at a time leaving about 20 seconds in between each addition.
Once the all the sugar has been added, the meringue should be thick, glossy and tripled in size. Add in the cornflour and whisk for another 20 seconds to incorporate. Spoon 6-8 large dollops of meringue onto your baking trays leaving about an inch between them. Use the back of a spoon to create a dip in each meringue and bake for 45-55 minutes or until the meringues come off the greaseproof paper without sticking. Turn off the heat and leave them in the oven to cool completely.
Add the quartered nectarines to a bowl and toss with the vanilla and brown sugar. Set aside until you're ready to assemble.
Make the tahini cream by whisking the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until the cream thickens to soft peaks. Add in the tahini and whip briefly until combined - careful not to overwhip.
Assemble the pavlovas right before you're ready to serve by spooning on the tahini cream. Add a few slices of nectarines along with some of the juice released from the fruit and top with the chopped hazelnuts.