I love meringue, but it has to be crispy on the outside and chewy and gooey in the middle. The “nests” you get in supermarkets just aren’t meringues to me, although the kids adore them! For years I’ve been making pavlovas the night before and leaving them in the oven with the door ajar, creating the perfect meringue for a pavlova, but obviously that takes forward thinking and planning which doesn’t always work for me.
In the quest to make a quick pavlova for last minute dinner guests, or a cheeky lunchtime dessert, I came up with the notion of making a large rectangular meringue and basically cutting it in half and creating a half-tray sized pavlova. In fairness one side looks more appealing than the other “cut” side, but if you can see past that then you’ll have a quick pavlova that you can whip up in less than an hour!
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
400 ml double cream
your choice of fruits - I went with blueberries and raspberries, decorated with mint leaves.
Makes a 16 x 11cm Pavlova
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F.
Line a flat baking tray, measuring approximately 32 x 22cm, with baking parchment making sure you have extra lip of a few centimetres above the baking tray.
Make the Meringue: Use a stand-alone mixer or electric hand mixer to whisk the egg whites until they begin to firm up. Then, with the blades still moving, add the caster sugar in spoonfuls until you achieve a firm, glossy, meringue. Using a metal spoon, fold in the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour.
Use a couple of dabs of meringue mixture on the underneath of the baking parchment to hold it in place on the baking tray, then spread the meringue mixture as evenly as you can across the baking tray. An offset spatula helps here but you can also use a large rubber spatula.
Pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Check to see that a crust has formed and the meringue has cooked through. However it will still feel soft to the touch. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes in the tray then carefully peel off the baking parchment. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
Make the Cream: Put the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Watch it closely as it can curdle or over-whip quickly.
Assemble: Cut the meringue in half. Position one half, smooth side upwards onto your serving plate. Spread a layer of cream over the meringue and sprinkle half of your fruit on top of the cream.
Top with the other half of the meringue, smooth side down, and again put a layer of cream on top. Arrange the rest of the fruit and mint leave, if using, on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar if you want.
Serve with the “neater” side facing your guests!