Countdown to Christmas with Scandilicious Pt. 3: Pistachio pavlova with boozy cherries
Today I’m bringing you my third and final recipe from my favourite seasonal cookbook Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen. As one so often does, I have saved the best to last. This weeks recipe is certainly going to be showing up in my home over the Christmas period. It’s a hands-down winner; a show-stopper of a pudding with (jingle) bells on it. For those who aren’t so keen on the traditional pudding, this is a great festive alternative. In fact I’d go as far as to say that this Pistachio Pavlova with boozy cherries could actually give the traditional pud a run for its money.
Pistachio pavlova with boozy cherries
Although originally Australian rather than Scandinavian in origin, I just couldn’t leave a fruit pavlova out of this book. I always think pavlova looks so festive and celebratory, particularly when heaped high with an abundance of fresh seasonal fruit. This is a pretty riotous pudding with mallowy vanilla and pistachio meringue, liqueur-soaked cherries, tangy pomegranate molasses, crème fraîche, lightly whipped cream and a scattering of bright colourful edible flowers – pansies, nasturtiums, cornflowers, borage, marigold, cowslip, lavender, sweet violet – but put them all together and you have a sensational dinner party dessert!
4 medium egg whites
225g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g unsalted shelled pistachios, crushed
Filling and topping
450g whole fresh cherries
450ml cherry liqueur (or cherry cordial)
170ml double cream, chilled
200ml crème fraîche, chilled
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus more to taste
50ml pomegranate molasses
assorted edible flowers (optional)
handful unsalted shelled pistachios, crushed, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment or silicone paper. Whisk the egg whites in a clean large bowl until they form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time and whisk each time to stiff peaks before adding more.
When all the sugar is incorporated, whisk in the cornflour, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract and then carefully fold in the crushed pistachios. Scoop the meringue mixture on to the baking sheet and smooth in to a circle about 23-25cm in diameter. Use a spatula to swirl the mixture around, creating dips and flicks of meringue here and there, and hollow out a shallow dip in the middle, about 15cm across, for the filling to sit in once the meringue is baked.
Place the meringue in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 120°C/100°C fan/gas mark ½. Bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours and then switch the oven off completely, leaving the meringue to dry out and cool in the oven for several hours or overnight. While the meringue is cooling, put the cherries in a small bowl, pour the cherry liqueur over them and leave to soak for a couple of hours.
When you’re ready to assemble the pavlova, lightly whip the double cream and crème fraîche together with the sugar until the cream thickens and just starts to hold its shape. Taste and add more sugar if you think it needs it – but do remember the meringue will be sweet too! Use a large spoon to scoop the whipped cream gently in to the centre of the pavlova and smooth it out to create an even layer.
Drain the cherries, keeping the liqueur for cocktails or to lace ice cream. Perch the boozy cherries on top of the cream, scattering a few around the sides for artistic purposes. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, garnish with edible flowers (if using) and sprinkle with the crushed pistachios for a little nutty crunch. Serve immediately.
If you don’t fancy pistachio meringue, simply leave them out and make a plain vanilla meringue or substitute other nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, instead.
Instead of cherries, try making this with spiced cooked plums, greengages, apricots, peaches, nectarines, summer berries or (for a more exotic twist) passion fruit, lime zest and coconut shavings.
Strawberries and Cornish clotted cream make a fabulous classic topping for vanilla pavlova. Or try chocolate whipped cream (just add cocoa and sugar to the cream) on a vanilla, chocolate or nut pavlova base – it’s seriously good topped with summer fruit or bananas.
© Signe Johansen 2012. Recipe extracted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, out now published by Saltyard Books, £25
A passionate home cook and eater, Louise Gorrod authors Buttercup Days which chronicles family life, her love for nostalgia, occasion, beautiful things and of course cooking. Louise lives beside the seaside with her husband and two young children in East Sussex from where she juggles her role as one half of Seen PR alongside mummy-stuff, writing and baking cakes. You can follow her on Twitter @ButtercupDays. Read more posts by Louise Gorrod.
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