Jewelled pavlova tower
Jewelled pavlova towerSubscribe to Sainsbury's magazine
A pavlova is a winning dessert at any time of year. This is filled with a lightly perfumed cream, but you can just fill it with plain whipped cream and fruit – it’s the colour and shape that make this such a striking showstopper
- 4 medium egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 x tube pink food colouring, use gel or paste for best results
For the filling
- 3 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
- 5 cardamom pods
- a pinch of saffron strands, optional
- 450ml double cream
- 300g raspberries
- 1 x 100g tub pomegranate seeds
The meringue layers can be made and stored in airtight containers between sheets of baking paper for up to 2 weeks. The meringues can also be frozen.
Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Using biscuit cutters, saucers and plates as guides, draw 5cm, 7cm, 10cm, 12cm, 15cm and 18cm circles on the paper. Turn the paper upside down on the baking trays. Snip off the end of a plastic piping bag and fit with a 12mm petal piping nozzle.
Preheat the oven to 120°C, fan 100°C, gas ½. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, and starting on a slow speed, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (about 3-4 minutes). Gradually add the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking thoroughly after each addition, until the meringue is smooth, glossy and thick. This will take 5-6 minutes. Tint to a pale pink with a little food colouring. Fill the piping bag about ¾ full, then fold over the top.
To get the hang of piping the frill effect, start with one of the medium-sized circles. Hold the piping bag upright, with the narrowest part of the nozzle pointing towards the outside edge of the circle, and move the bag up and down as you pipe to create a frill. It is easier to move the baking tray around as you pipe, rather than trying to pipe in a circle. This may sound complicated, but the nozzle does all the hard work for you, and it will look very effective, even if your piping isn’t perfect. Repeat for all the other sizes. For the two smallest circles, simply fill in the centre with more piped meringue, but for all the others, divide the leftover meringue between the circles and spread out to fill in within the outer frill.
Bake for 2 hours until the meringues have dried out and the paper peels off easily, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin until needed.
Mix 1 tablespoon of boiling water with the jam to give a drizzling consistency. Split the cardamom pods, extract the seeds and crush them in a pestle and mortar with the saffron. Add to the cream; whisk until thick but not too stiff and spread over the meringues (except for the smallest, which will be the top). Arrange the raspberries around the edges of the meringues, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with the jam. Stack the layers on top of each other, the largest one on the bottom and the smallest one on top, to make a pyramid. Serve within 2 hours. You’ll need to take the layers apart to cut up and serve.