There are so many ways to dress a pavlova, and though fresh fruit might be most common, these roasted, vanilla-scented apricots are delicious with the crunchy and marshmallowy meringue and tangy lemon curd.
12 apricots, split in half and pitted
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 vanilla pod, splintered
good splash verjuice
150g lemon curd
1 punnet blackberries
150ml egg whites (4-6 whites), make sure there are no traces of yolk
260g icing sugar, sifted
2 1/2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp white vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 130C conventional (don't use fan). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. For the meringue, beat the egg whites in a stand mixer (make sure the bowl is clean and dry) until they start to form soft peaks. Incorporate the icing sugar in three batches while still beating. Beat until the mix is glossy and stiff enough to hold its shape - you can test this by spooning some meringue back onto the mass, and if it keeps its form, it's ready. Off the mixer, gently fold in the cornflour, cream of tartar and vinegar until incorporated.
3. Immediately tip the mix on to the lined tray in a round. Lightly smooth it into a dome, but don't flatten the top. Bake for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave to cool completely in the oven. Remove.
4. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
5. In an ovenproof ceramic dish toss the apricots with the brown sugar and vanilla pod. Arrange the apricots cut side up and set aside for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the verjuice over them and roast for 25 minutes, with the grill on for the last five to scorch some edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the juices.
6. To serve, mix the mascarpone and lemon curd very gently (it can curdle if you're too vigorous). Gently crack the top of the meringue to make a crater and spoon the curd mix in. Top with the apricots, their juices and the blackberries.
Drink: Moscato d'asti