Let us introduce you to the slablova - the crowd-friendly pavlova that will have your entertaining needs sorted this silly season. Basically it is pav for a crowd. One big dome of A3 (almost) sized meringue, chewy inside, and a spoon-shatteringly crisp outside, generously slathered with wobbling hillocks of cream and various adornments.
Unlike stacked pavlovas, there is no more crushing disappointment as you slice into it and watch your toppings tumble into oblivion. There is a much more joyous meringue to topping ratio per serve and it is far more user-friendly for those serve-yourself sort of reunions.
Pedantry on shape and size aside, it's pav, and what matters most is you get to eat it. And that is cause for celebration in itself.
Pavlova (base recipe)
8 egg whites at room temperature
500g caster sugar
Dash white wine vinegar or lemon juice
20g corn flour
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1. Preheat oven to 130C.
2. Line a large baking tray (approx. 40cm x 30cm) with baking paper.
3. Add the egg whites to a clean dry bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk on medium until you see ribbons starting to form across the top of the mixture. Very gradually begin to add the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time so it is well incorporated into the egg white. Once all sugar has been added, increase mixer speed to high and whip for about 3 minutes then turn off the mixer. Gently sift over the cornflour and then add the white wine vinegar and vanilla and stir to combine.
4. Turn out onto your tray and, using a palette knife or spatula, spread the mixture across the baking paper, creating a few tips and dips in the meringue as you go.
5. Place in the oven and immediately turn oven down to 100C. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour then turn off the oven and leave the pavlova to finish cooking. Don't rush this component, leave it for at least two hours to ensure it has time to set and forms a lovely thick crust.
The elderflower crème fraiche and honeycomb slablova Photo: Katrina Meynink
Option 1: Elderflower crème fraiche and honeycomb
415g caster sugar
150g glucose syrup
18g bi-carbonate soda
Elderflower crème fraiche
2 tbsp elderflower cordial (these vary considerably between brands so add slowly and taste as you go)
2 cups crème fraiche with 1 tbsp vanilla paste stirred through
Crystalised violets, broken
For the Honeycomb, line a deep 20cm square tin with baking paper. Place caster sugar, glucose syrup, honey and 70g water into a medium saucepan and place over low medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar then bring to the boil. Cook until mixture reaches 160C. Remove from heat then carefully add bi-carb soda and whisk quickly to dissolve. Pour into prepared tray and set aside to cool for at least 1 hour. Once cool, use a serrated knife to trim the outside edges so that the inner structure is visible. Break into large chunks and set aside. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container.
Combine the elderflower cordial, crème fraiche and vanilla paste in a bowl then dollop or spread across the pavlova. Top with chunks of honeycomb, crystallised violets, bee pollen and edible flowers if using. Serve immediately.
Mixed berries and sumac sugar slablova Photo: Katrina Meynink
Option 2: Mixed berries and sumac sugar
500g thick greek yoghurt, lightly sweetened with 1 tbsp icing sugar (or to taste)
2 x 250g punnets of strawberries, hulled and sliced whichever way you'd like
Arils of ½ pomegranate
1 x 125g punnet raspberries
Edible pink/red flowers (optional)
Freeze dried strawberries (optional)
1 tbsp sumac
4 tbsp raw sugar or coconut sugar
To assemble transfer the slablova to a large serving plate. Spread with the yoghurt. Top with the berries, freeze dried strawberries and flowers.
To make the sumac sugar, combine the sumac and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over some of the sumac sugar and serve immediately with additional sumac sugar on the side.
Grilled peaches and tahini caramel slablova Photo: Katrina Meynink
Option 3: Grilled peaches and tahini caramel
2 cups crème fraiche
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp vanilla paste or seeds of 2 vanilla beans, scraped
3 peaches, halved, stone removed, cut into wedges
1 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
Candied orange slices (optional)
200g caster sugar
100g salted butter, cubed
150g tahini paste
To make the caramel, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and place over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to high and cook until the sugar is a lovely brown hue. Remove from heat and add the butter and cream, be careful as mixture will spit. Whisk constantly to prevent any seizing. Add the tahini and any extra salt to taste. Set aside to cool slightly.
For the peaches, heat a bbq or char grill pan to medium. Lightly toss peaches in brown sugar to roughly coat and grill until charred (1-2 minutes each side). Transfer to a plate to cool.
To assemble, transfer the slablova to a large serving plate. Combine the crème fraiche, cardamom and vanilla in a bowl then top pavlova with dollops of the crème fraiche mixture. Top with grilled peaches, candied orange slices and toasted almonds. Drizzle over tahini caramel and serve immediately with extra tahini caramel.
The Golden Gaytime slablova Photo: Katrina Meynink
Option 4: Golden Gaytime
300ml thickened cream
¾ cup caramel con leche
½ cup melted milk chocolate (or dark if your preference, both work well)
¾ cup Gaytime crumbs (currently available at supermarkets)
¼ cup cacao nibs
Whisk cream to soft peak in a bowl. Spread over the pavlova then top with generous drizzles of caramel con leche and melted chocolate. Generously scatter with the Gaytime crumbs and the cacao nibs to taste. Serve immediately.