Blackberry and bay poached pear pavlova
- December 2016
- Serves 8-10
- Hands-on time 55 min, simmering 20-30, oven 2-2½ hours, plus chilling, soaking and cooling
Finish a dinner party off with this not-so-traditional pavlova topped with blackberries and boozy, poached pears – it’s the perfect centrepiece for any special occasion.
- 26.9g (16.7g saturated)
- 49.8g (49.8g saturated)
For the poached pears
- 250ml sloe gin, or ruby port or damson vodka
- 200g frozen blackberries
- 400ml water
- 60g caster sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 conference pears, just underripe
For the pavlova
- 5 large free-range egg whites, from 1-2 week old eggs
- 300g caster sugar
- 500ml double cream
- To poach the pears, gently heat all the ingredients except the pears in a deep, fairly narrow pan until the sugar has melted. Peel the pears and, working from the wide end/base so you can keep the pears whole. use a small spoon or melon baller to remove the cores (discard). Rub each pear with a clean tea towel to smooth off any edges, then put the pears in the liquid and simmer gently for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender. Remove from the heat and lay a circle of baking paper onto the surface to keep the pears submerged. Set aside to cool, then chill overnight.
- Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside. Strain the liquid into a pan (reserve the blackberries but discard the bay leaves), then reduce over a high heat until glossy and syrupy. You should have around 150ml liquid left. Blend half the liquid with the blackberries until smooth. Set this and the remaining poaching liquid aside.
- To make the pavlova, heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6. Draw a 20cm diameter circle on a sheet of non-stick baking paper with a pencil, then turn over the paper. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks in a large, spotlessly clean mixing bowl using an electric mixer.
- Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition to bring the eggs back to stiff peaks. You should have very stiff, glossy meringue. Use 4 dabs to stick the baking paper to a baking sheet, then spoon the meringue onto the traced out circle.
- Using a dessertspoon, push the meringue out from the centre of the circle to create grooves and points/crenellations.
- Transfer the baking sheet with the meringue to the middle rack of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 130ºC/110ºC fan/gas ½. Bake for 2-2½ hours until you can easily peel the paper from the meringue. Turn off the oven but leave the meringue inside until completely cool (about 4 hours).
- In a mixing bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, then swirl with the blended blackberry syrup to create a marbled effect. Spoon the cream into the hollowed-out meringue, top with the pears, quartered, and drizzle over the reserved poaching syrup. Serve.
Freeze the egg yolks to use in other recipes.
Cook the meringue up to 24 hours ahead. Keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Whites from eggs that are less than super-fresh produce stiffer meringues. That’s particularly important for this recipe, so buy your eggs 1-2 weeks in advance.
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