Pavlova, would probably be my first pudding choice off a menu (gluten free sticky toffee pudding or a fabulous ice cream would also be huge contenders!!). And the great thing about Pavlova, is by nature it’s naturally gluten free – hoorah!! Of course, when eating out you do need to double check, to ensure no pesky gluten ingredients have been added!
After having enjoyed the most amazing Pavlova at The Rookery whilst staying in Carnoustie, I was inspired to pop one together myself (food does that to me!). And as we are slap bang in the middle of strawberry season in the UK, I thought they would be the perfect fruit to pop on top of the Pavlova delicious creamy custard filling. A final quick squiggle of yummy melted white chocolate completed this gorgeous desert!
I have to say, I’m delighted how this pavlova turned out. And, for such an impressive looking sweet it really is so very simple to make. Also, on this occasion as I filled the base of the pavlova with a homemade custard, it meant the egg yolks left over from the meringue were nicely used up too.
Prior to filling the Pavlova, don’t worry if the outer meringue cracks a bit, as the finished look will still be amazing, and the taste and squishy middle will more than make up for the odd crack here and there!
Ingredients (Serves 8)
4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of *cornflour
For the creamy custard filling!
4 large egg yolks
60g caster sugar
280ml full cream milk
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon of *vanilla bean paste or extract
300ml double cream (if you prefer to only use half this quantity that would work OK)
103g bag of *milky bar buttons
Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2/130C Fan
Either flatten down a greaseproof paper round cake liner (I did this and spread the meringue mixture, leaving about an inch gap from the edge all the way around) or simply lie a piece of greaseproof paper onto a large baking tray.
Pop the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixture until they are light, fluffy and hold their shape.
Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, giving the mixture a whisk in between additions (don’t over whisk as you don’t want to knock all the air out). Add the vinegar and cornflour to the meringue and whisk again until all mixed in. The meringue should be thick and glossy.
Spoon the meringue mixture onto the greaseproof paper and shape into the size of a small dinner plate (approx. 8½). Leaving the sides, a bit higher and making a dip in the centre.
Pop in the oven and bake for 1hr. After this time turn the oven off and leave the Pavlova in there to go completely cold before taking it out.
To make the custard
Pop the milk on to boil. If using a vanilla pod, add the seeds to the milk.
In a large bowl mix together the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract (if using).
Once the milk has boiled remove it from the heat and bit by bit add it to the egg yolk mixture. Whisking all the time.
Clean the milk pan (this helps prevent the custard from burning) and then pour the milk and egg yolk mixture back in. Return to the heat and stir briskly (I took my eye of this for a moment, and it did start to go a little lumpy – had to give it a reall good whisk to bring it back). The custard will start to thicken as it heats through. You do need to bring the custard to a light boil as this will ensure the cornflour has been cooked out thoroughly.
Remove the custard off the heat and transfer into a bowl that is large enough to allow you to whisk the custard (and add the additional cream once cold). Press greaseproof over the top of the custard (this prevents a skin forming) and pop it into the fridge.
Whilst the custard is cooling, now’s a good time to wash and prepare the strawberries. I sliced some strawberries in half and some into smaller pieces, but you do whatever you prefer.
Once cold, whisk the custard using an electric mixer, until it’s smooth and velvety. Add the cream and whisk again until thick creamy and the perfect consistency to spoon into the Pavlova.
Gently peel the greaseproof paper away from the Pavlova and transfer it onto a large serving plate. Spoon in the custard and smooth out with the back of the spoon.Arrange the strawberries over the custard.
Melt the chocolate buttons in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag (I like the disposable ones and simply snip a tiny bit off the end) with a fine nozzle and drizzle the chocolate randomly all over the Pavlova – doesn’t it look great!
Chilling the Pavlova for a few hours before tucking in, will allow the custard to settle and set better.
As you know with all my recipes (this paticular one has been adaped from recipes from the BBC good food website) I’m simply sharing with you what I put together, but the world really is your oyster as to how you choose to then jiggle around with them. This Pavlova recipe can be varied in a ridiculous amount of ways. I’ve noted a few suggestions down below…I’m sure you will have tons of ideas too. As always email me if you are unsure or need a little inspiration!
Dairy free – Double up on the custard recipe using a dairy free alternative milk and don’t add the cream.
Short of time – Use all whipped cream rather than making custard.
Individual Pavlova’s – look gorgeous and saves having to portion up – just reduce the cooking time and still leave them in the oven once you turn it off. Individual ones would look great with different fruit and varied *chocolate drizzle too!
Promise me you make this – it really is a winner!!
*Check this product out to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.