Prep time – 30 minutes
Cook time – 1 hour 20 minutes (plus cooling)
Serves 6 -8
By Phillipa Spence for Clarence Court
Meringue is a great Christmas dessert stand by. Mix up and use roasted fruit or use pre-made caramel sauce instead of chestnut puree if you fancy.
Pre-heat the oven to 120c/250f. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and draw a 30cm circle on it as a template.
Place the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean mixing bowl and whisk with a hand held or freestanding electric mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Add the caster sugar a spoon full at a time, whisking the whole time then add the sea salt and vanilla extract. Continue to whisk for around 8 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. To test this take a pinch of mixture between your finger and thumb and rub together – if it’s a little gritty continue mixing.
Spoon the mixture on to the lined baking sheet using the back of the spoon to create peaks. Place the pavlova in the oven for around 1 hour and 20 minutes or until set a crisp. Once baked switch off the oven and allow the oven to cool down completely. Once cooled you can keep the pavlova in an air tight box for around 3 days in a cool dark place.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve remove the pavlova from the oven and pre- heat to 200c/400f.
Line a small roasting tin or baking sheet with grease proof paper. Rinse the pecans under cold water in a sieve and tip into a roasting tin whilst wet, sprinkle over 1 tablespoon icing sugar, toss together and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until toasted and crunchy.
Meanwhile pour the cream into a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoons icing sugar and vanilla bean paste. Whisk to soft peaks and place to one side.
Wash fruits and quarter the figs. Place the pavlova on a serving plate or board and spoon over the cream, spoon the chestnut puree on top and arrange over the fruit. Scatter over the caramelised pecans and dust over a little ground cinnamon.