A dramatic five-tiered, flower shaped pavlova topped with elderflower cream, raspberry coulis, spun sugar, berries and white chocolate.
Equipment: for this recipe you'll need a food processor, piping bags and a large star nozzle.
200g white caster sugar
For the meringues, draw a 22cm/8½in circle onto two pieces of parchment, then two 20cm/8in circles on two more pieces of parchment, and finally one 18cm/7in circle. Now draw an eight-petalled flower inside the circle ensuring that the petals stay within the circle.
Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
Place nine of the egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Weigh out half the sugar into a smaller bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer on medium speed, mix the egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form when the beaters are removed and the meringue is glossy.
Spoon the meringue into a disposable piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Place both 22cm/8½in stencils and one 20cm/8in stencil onto baking trays and pipe meringue onto the petals, filling the petals completely.
With a teaspoon make slight indentations in the petals. These will hold the berries later on. Remember that these layers will be stacked and so should be rather shallow.
Place into the preheated oven and immediately turn down to 100C/225F/Gas ¼ and bake for 1½ hours. When they are done, turn off the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes with the oven door open. Repeat the process with the remaining two meringue layers. The smallest meringue layer will be the top, so pipe it with care, though make it as elaborate as you like.
Meanwhile for the bramble berries, temper the milk chocolate. Melt half of the milk chocolate into a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Heat until the chocolate reaches 43C/109F (measure the temperature with an electric food thermometer).
Remove from the heat, and add the remaining half of the milk chocolate. Cool to 28C/82F then reheat slightly to 30C/86F. The chocolate is now tempered. Repeat the process with the white chocolate.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Using cocktail sticks, dip the strawberries into the tempered milk chocolate and place onto the baking sheet. Allow to set. Spoon the melted white chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a writing nozzle and zig-zag the white chocolate over the chocolate-dipped strawberries. Set aside.
For the raspberry coulis, blend the raspberries and icing sugar in a food processor, then press the purée through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Set aside.
For the elderflower cream, whisk the cream in a large mixing bowl to soft peaks. Fold in the elderflower liqueur and icing sugar with a spatula. Refrigerate until needed.
Once the meringue layers are completely cool, melt the white chocolate and paint this over the tops of the meringues using a pastry brush. This will help avoid any absorption of excess liquid from the cream.
To assemble the pavlova, place one of the largest meringues onto a cake stand. Add a quarter of the cream into the centre. Place some of the blackberries on top, and place some berries into the hollows in the meringue flower petals – alternate a chocolate-coated strawberry on one petal, with three blackberries on another. Add the next layer of meringue and repeat.
Add the top layer of meringue and pipe a small blob of cream in the centre, and top with a chocolate strawberry.
To make the spun sugar, dissolve the sugar in two tablespoons water in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly.
When the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up and boil without stirring until it turns a copper colour. Immediately remove from the heat and place the saucepan into a sink of cold water (be careful not to get any water in the caramel or you will need to start again).
Dip two forks, held together back to back, into the caramel and spin them around and over the meringue layer, until you have a cage of spun sugar.
Serve in slices with the raspberry coulis.
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Paul and Mary share some of their favourite festive recipes in this one-off special.
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