The Meringue Girls' pistachio and rosewater pavlova
I met the gorgeous Meringue Girls on board the fabulous Silver Sturgeon boat moored at the Savoy Pier on the River Thames last week. You can hire the boat for all kinds of dos, from weddings to posh corporate functions, and I for one can't imagine anything better than cruising down the river, Sipsmith gin cocktail in hand, tucking into food provided by Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts, the on-board catering company.
Alex and Stacey combine their creative cooking and marketing flair to supply the prettiest meringues for parties and celebrity events – see the evidence below. Here are their top tips on creating perfect meringue treats, and a rather special pavlova recipe.
1. Our egg white-to-sugar ratio is very easy to remember – it's double the amount of sugar to egg whites. A medium egg white weighs 30g, so use 60g of caster sugar per egg white.
2. The biggest mistake with meringue making is adding the sugar before the egg whites are totally stiff. If you add sugar too early, your meringues will never reach the stiff consistency you want.
3. We use caster sugar for most of our meringues, as the fine grain dissolves in the mixture very quickly. We also heat the sugar in the oven first so that it dissolves even more quickly, giving a smooth and glossy mixture. If the sugar hasn't been allowed to dissolve and the mixture is grainy when it goes into the oven, the meringues will often leak sugar syrup during baking.
4. We use Two Chicks free-range liquid egg whites to avoid hundreds of yolks swimming in our fridge!
Raspberry pavlova? Lemon meringue pie? Share your favourite meringue recipes in the comments box below.
PISTACHIO AND ROSEWATER PAVLOVA WITH GREEK YOGURT, HONEY AND FIGS
- 300g caster sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 100g pistachios
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- 8 figs
- 300g Greek yogurt
- 4 tbsp clear honey
- fresh rose petals, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.
- Line a deep roasting tray with baking paper, pour in the caster sugar and heat in the oven for about 5 minutes until the edges are just beginning to melt.
- Meanwhile, put the egg whites into a freestanding mixer bowl or non-plastic bowl – make sure your bowl and whisk are free from grease.
- Whisk the egg whites slowly at first, allowing small bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
- At this point, the sugar should be ready to take out of the oven. Turn your oven down to 100°C, fan 80°C, gas ¼; keep the door ajar to speed up the cooling process.
- While you whisk at full speed, slowly add the hot sugar to the meringue mixture, a spoonful at a time. Once you’ve added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed for about 5-7 minutes.
- Rub a little of the mixture between your fingers – if you can still feel the gritty sugar, keep whisking at full speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy.
- Finely grind 50g of the pistachios in a food processor, or use a pestle and mortar.
- Add half of the finely ground pistachios to your meringue mixture, along with the rosewater. Fold very gently to incorporate all the ingredients, taking care not to knock out any of the volume.
- Working quickly, spoon the meringue mixture on to the centre of the baking sheet and mould into the shape of a large spiky nest. Use the back of the spoon to make a dip in the centre of the meringue to form a well.
- Sprinkle with the rest of the finely ground pistachios and bake for about 2 hours. When cooked, the meringue should have a firm base and easily come away from the baking paper. Set aside to cool.
- Slice the figs into quarters and roughly chop the remaining 50g of pistachios.
- Place the cooled pavlova in the centre of a large plate. Spoon the Greek yogurt into the middle of the meringue nest, allowing it to spill over the sides.
- Place most of the figs on top of the yogurt and a scatter a few around the plate. Drizzle with honey, scatter over the roughly chopped pistachios and top with fresh rose petals.
The undecorated pavlova will keep for up to a week. Cover with clingfilm or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.