Christmas tree pavlova
|150 g||egg whites — approximately 4 large whites|
|270 g||castor sugar|
|1 tsp||corn flour|
|1/4 tsp||Robertson's cream of tartar|
|3/4 tsp||vanilla extract|
|200 ml||fresh cream — whipped|
|edible gold leaf|
Line two baking sheets with baking paper, and trace circles of varying sizes which decrease to form the shape of the tree. I used 17cm, 12cm and 7cm for the three main discs, and piped a small meringue for the top of the tree.
Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celcius.
Set a pot of water to boil on the stove, then lower down to a simmer. Find a bowl which will fit over the pot, to create a bain-marie. You want the steam from the water to gently heat your egg and sugar, without touching the bowl.
Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl and place over the pot of simmering water. Whisk by hand for about three minutes, until the mixture is warm, and the sugar has dissolved.
Take the meringue off the heat and continue to whip with either a stand mixer or hand mixer, until you have stiff and glossy peaks. This will take at least 5 minutes with a stand mixer and perhaps longer if using a hand mixer.
Once your meringue has a nice stiff peak, add the cornflour and vanilla extract and fold it through the meringue.
*As an extra step, you can use a star tip, a leaf tip or even a round tip nozzle to add a bit of decoration to the outside of the meringue once you have formed your three meringue disks. If you want to do this, set aside about three tablespoons of meringue which you will pipe later.
Then pile the meringue inside the three circles you have traced, on your baking paper, and spoon/pipe a little fourth meringue for the tip of your tree. Smooth the meringue out until you have nice tall discs of meringue.
If you have chosen to do so, you can then use the extra meringue set aside to pipe a little border around the discs to add a bit of decoration to your tree.
Place the meringues in the oven to dry for about 1 – 1.5 hours. It is important that they dry at a low temperature, or the outsides will get to brown.
Check on them after about 1 hour, and then every 15 minutes, thereafter to make sure they do not brown too much. The meringue should feel firm on the outside when you touch it. You should also be able to lift it off the baking paper with relative ease. Be careful though, as the shells are fragile.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely. If not using on the same day, you can store them in an airtight container until ready to use.
*You want to finish the tree just before serving, as the cream will start to dissolve the meringue over time, and the meringue will lose its crispness.
To finish, whip the cream to soft peaks and pile it onto the largest meringue disc, decorating with berries in between. Then add the second disc, adding more cream and berries followed by more cream and berries and finally your last meringue topper.
You can decorate your tree as you like, with more berries on the outside, some edible gold leaf, crushed pistachios, toasted flaked almonds etc.