I developed this recipe when I had a whole load of plums left over from Saturday morning cooking club, we were making jam or something and I over estimated how much we’d need. The issue with this recipe is it’s so good you don’t want to make this when you’re trying to cut down your sugar intake and think that your willpower is so good that you can cope with a ‘bite’, you can’t. Believe me, it’s addictive, massively so, I wager that none of you could stop at just one slice or one mini pavlova and would be hard pressed to stop at three. Go on, we’ll see.
The cornflour and vinegar or lemon juice help to stabilise the meringue so it keeps it shape and doesn’t ‘leak’ during cooking.
6 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
150g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1kg plums, stones removed and diced
150g light muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2.5cm cinnamon stick
500ml double or whipping cream
Icing sugar to dust
- Preheat the oven to 160c/gas 3.
- Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer at top speed until they reach stiff peak. Keep on whisking at top speed adding the sugar 1 teaspoonful at a time. This will take time, once all the sugar has been added the mixture will be stiff and glossy.
- Mix the cornflower and vinegar or lemon juice together and fold this into the meringue mixture along with the hazelnuts.
- To make mini pavlovas:
- Cut a sheet of baking parchment to fit your baking tray. Use a cookie cutter, glass or mug as a guide to draw 7 or 8 cm discs on baking parchment with a pencil making sure there is a gap between them.
- Turn the parchment over and place on a baking tray. Either transfer the meringue mixture to a piping bag and pipe meringue inside the pencil discs or place tablespoonfuls of meringue mixture inside the discs, flattening a little in the centre.
- Conventional oven: put the meringues into the oven and turn the oven down to 150c/gas 2. Bake for 30-40 mins then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for a further hour.
- AGA: put the meringues on a baking tray on the oven floor of the roasting oven with a plain cold shelf immediately above it for 5 minutes then transfer to the middle of the simmering oven for 35-45 minutes. Allow the meringue to cool fully before removing from the parchment.
- To make a torte:
- Draw an 2 x 23cm diameter circles on baking parchment and inside one of the circles draw another circle with a diameter of 18cm. Turn the parchment over and lay on a baking tray.
- Spread half the meringue to cover the whole of one 23cm discs, and use the other half of the meringue to fill a garland between the two discs (this will go on top)
- Conventional oven: put the meringue into the oven and turn the oven down to 150c/gas 2. Bake for 1 hour then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for a further hour.
- AGA: place one of the meringues on a baking tray on the oven floor of the roasting oven with a plain cold shelf immediately above it for 5 minutes then transfer to the middle of the simmering oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Repeat with other meringue, replacing the plain cold shelf for a cold one. Allow the meringue to cool fully before removing from the parchment.
- To make the plum filling; put the plums in a saucepan with the sugar, ground cardamom and cinnamon stick and set over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved, the plums are soft and the juices are running. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Whip the cream until thick and soft, to assemble pile the cream on the base of the meringue then top with plums, for the torte finally place the garland of meringue on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.