This is the ultimate holiday dessert. There is no sugar in the cream as there is plenty of sweetness in the meringue. The pavlova also tastes lovely with some basil oil or lemon curd flicked artfully over the top.
300g egg whites
450g castor sugar
300ml thickened cream
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 mango, diced
1 punnet strawberries, cut into quarters
1 banana, cut into quarters lengthways
1 punnet blueberries
pulp of 2 passionfruit
¼ bunch mint, roughly torn
Basil oil (optional)
1 bunch basil
200ml olive oil
1 pinch salt
To make the pavlova: Preheat your oven to fan-forced 100C. Place the egg whites into an electric mixer and whisk on high. As the whites start to become aerated and peaky (which will take about three minutes on high), start adding the castor sugar while still continuing to whip the whites. A smooth, velvety, thick meringue will form.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spoon the mixture onto the tray, making it approximately 5 to 8 centimetres high in whatever shape you desire. Bake for one hour and 20 minutes or until you start to see a shell forming on the outside of the meringue. Let the meringue cool for 45 minutes.
To decorate: Add the cream and vanilla bean to a large mixing bowl and whip until the mixture thickens. Spread the chantilly cream on top of the meringue. Scatter the fruit over the pavlova.
For the basil oil: Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil. Blanch the basil including the stalks for 45 seconds and then strain and place them into iced water. Immediately remove the basil from the iced water and press between a couple of tea towels to get as much water off as possible. Put the basil leaves, stalks and olive oil into a food processor and whiz on high until a green paste forms. Place the paste into a fine strainer or muslin cloth and strain the oil out. It should be a bright, vibrant green colour. Drizzle the basil oil over the top of the pavlova and serve.
TIP: When spooning your meringue mixture onto the baking tray, create a few little peaks and troughs on the surface. This will help to hold the cream and fruit on top of the pavlova.