With its simple and fresh toppings of whipped cream and fruit, marshmallow-like centre and crisp, slightly toasted exterior, pavlova is always a crowd pleaser. But instead of the usual, why not change it up a bit with striking swirls of raspberry puree through the meringue and the subtle scent of roses?
For the raspberry puree
200 grams of raspberries (frozen or fresh)
30 grams (2 tablespoons) castor sugar
For the pavlova
6 egg whites
200 grams castor sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (or white vinegar)
150ml cream, whipped to soft peaks
100 grams fresh raspberries for decorating
1 tablespoon of rosewater
1 tablespoon of finely chopped, unsalted, pistachios
Preheat the oven to 200C (you will turn it down just before putting the pavlova in the oven).
Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of baking paper. With a pencil, trace a circle about 20 centimetres in diameter onto the baking paper and then flip the sheet over so you can still see the tracing.
Prepare the raspberry puree by blending the berries with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
Prepare the meringue. In a very clean metal, ceramic or glass mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft and foamy, then slowly, one tablespoon at a time, add the sugar until you have a very glossy, thick mixture that doesn't slide around if you tip the bowl to the side. With the last tablespoon of sugar, add the cream of tartar.
Scoop the meringue gently out of the bowl and onto the traced circle on your baking sheet. Shape the pavlova roughly with a spatula (no need to be perfect, the rustic, free-form nature of this is part of its appeal!), forming a slight dip in the centre of the pavlova.
Gently drizzle about 1/4 cup or 60 millilitres of the raspberry puree over the top of the pavlova and with a toothpick or skewer stick, trace swirling patterns through the puree and into the meringue to create a swirled effect. Don't overdo it or it becomes a pink, deflated mess, but do just enough that you can begin to see white lines of meringue through the raspberry.
Immediately before placing the pavlova in the oven, turn the heat down to 125C and bake on the lower shelf of the oven for about 80-90 minutes or until the pavlova is dry to the touch and the meringue is just ivory coloured but not browned. Leaving the pavlova in the oven, turn heat off and leave the door ajar. Let the pavlova cool completely before removing from oven to avoid cracking.
Decorate with softly whipped cream, some of the leftover raspberry puree and fresh raspberries. Sprinkle rosewater and pistachios over the top.
You could make this into six individual mini-pavlovas instead of one big one and reduce the baking time a little. Raspberries could easily be substituted with strawberries. Or try other berries such as blueberries or blackberries and instead of the rosewater use some lime juice – the tartness really complements the sweetness of the meringue. If rosewater isn't your thing, you could simply leave it out or try adding a dash of vanilla essence (or some vanilla seeds) together with the raspberry puree.