Festive pavlova

A festive pavlova is a great alternative to your typical Christmas pudding – cover yours in thinly sliced fresh figs or berries or seasonal fruit, with pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios scattered over the top.

Festive pavlova
Chris Alack

SERVES 6

FOR THE MERINGUE
6 large egg whites at room temperature
35g white caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar

FOR THE DRIZZLE
300g red plums
30g caster sugar
juice of ½ lemon

ON TOP
300ml double cream
thinly sliced fresh figs or berries or seasonal fruit
pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios for scattering
icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Cut out a circle of baking paper about 23cm in diameter and place this on a baking sheet. Whip the egg whites in a large bowl using an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks, then scatter over the caster sugar a few tablespoons at a time, whisking well with each addition. Gradually whisk in the cornflour, then the vinegar, until you have a stiff, glossy meringue.

2. Spoon the meringue on to the paper circle, taking it almost to the edge, and swirl the top with the spoon. Place in the oven, reduce the temperature to 130C/110C fan/gas ½ and bake for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before peeling off the paper and placing the meringue on a serving plate.

3. For the drizzle, slice around each plum to the stone and place in a small pan with the caster sugar and lemon juice. Cover and cook over a low heat, stirring as necessary, for 15 minutes or until the plums are soft and sitting in a pool of juices. Discarding the stones, whiz the plums in a processor with 3 tablespoons of the cooking juices to a smooth purée. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.

4. Shortly before serving, whisk the cream in a large bowl to fluffy peaks and spoon on to the centre of the meringue. Arrange your figs, berries or seasonal fruit on top of the festive pavlova and swirl over the drizzle. Scatter over a few pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios, dust with icing sugar and serve as soon as possible.

Recipes by Annie Bell. Food styling by Clare Lewis. Styling by Sue Radcliffe.