Eton Mess, a terribly British dessert that I have fallen in love with, it is perfect for summer and a doddle to prepare. Then there is the Pavlova, an iconic Australian sweet, apparently invented in Perth but the New Zealanders dispute that. Both these dishes use fruit, meringue and cream in wide abandon and are prefect for long, lazy summer days and evenings. Melding the recipes was a bit of inspiration after DEB and I spent an evening comparing recipes for Eton Mess and I said that pav was far superior to her choice of store bought meringues. The judges are still out on this debate but it does give me the opportunity to meld my cultural experiences for your eating pleasure.
This is a great recipe because it is a little different from either of the two original recipes and easy to prepare and will wow your diners.
The Pavlova shell can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container or even just wrapped in foil. The recipe for the shell is a halved recipe straight from Cookery the Australian Way, the cookery bible in most Australian homes. The Pavlova gives a really great crunch of the hard outer shell and the squidginess of the marshmallow like interior. Of course you could use a hard meringue, either home made or store bought for this but then it would not be Pavlova Mess, it would be Eton Mess with extra fruit.
I use golden caster sugar, it gives the pav a light brown colour and slight caramel taste.
Separate your egg whites, if you happen to get egg yolk in your whites, rescue the yolk using egg shell and add a pinch of salt to help it whip up.
Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.
Slowly add the sugar and beat the mixture into stiff peaks.
Add the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour at the very end, you can fold this in but I just throw it in the final little whip.
Put grease proof paper on a baking tray and carefully pile the mixture onto the tray. Thinner pile if you want more crunch and thicker if you want more squidgy stuff.
Cook for about an hour on 110 degrees Celsius (270 F/1/4 Gas mark), you are waiting for the hard shell to form and inner soft bit to be fully cooked. The bottom of the oven is best, as it the cooler spot, but bear in mind you know your oven, in mine it is the middle shelf. The outside will have started to crack a little and if you have syrup coming out it has been there too long. Thankfully this is Pavlova mess and not a proper pav so there is room for over and under cooking.
(Of course, these measurements are a guide, mainly because this is a sweet that does not require precise chemistry, feel free to add more berries but trust me on the pomegranate or passion fruit.)
Whip the cream until still slightly runny but not too thick, you want to mix well.
Hull your strawberries and roughly halve or quarter; remove the seeds of the pomegranate or passion fruit and peel and slice the kiwis.
Okay, so now this bit should be done just before serving, the rest can be complete a couple of hours before hand and stored in the fridge or cooler box, handy for cricket picnics to full on dinner parties.
Break up the Pavlova, throw in the fruit and pour in the cream, mix and serve!
It is that simple. For extra sophistication you can drizzle a fruit based liqueur over the dessert.
As for something to drink with Pavlova Mess, you can go terribly English and have Pimm's and Lemonade, maybe a sweet dessert wine or even a sticky fruit liqueur.