Recipe adapted from Complete Cookery Course
|For the meringue:|
| 3 large egg whites|
| 175g golden caster sugar|
| 400g fresh ripe strawberries, hulled|
| 1 dessertspoon caster sugar|
|For the filling:|
| 1 x 250g tub mascarpone, chilled|
| 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract|
| 1 x 200g natural French fromage frais |
| 1 rounded dessertspoon golden caster sugar|
| Icing sugar to dust|
| Pre-heat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2|
|Equipment: You will need a medium baking sheet lined with a liner|
See Perfect Egg Whites
For the meringue place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and whisk them until they form stiff peaks (it's very important, though, not to over-whisk the egg whites because, if you do, they will start to collapse).
Now start to whisk in the 175g sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is in. Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon about one third of the meringue mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 20 cm in diameter.
Then spoon round blobs next to each other so that they join up to form a circle all around the edge. Now, using the tip of a skewer, make little swirls in the meringue. Pop it in the oven, then immediately turn down the heat to 140°C , gas mark 1 and leave it for 1 hour.
Then turn the heat right off but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it's completely cold.
When your ready to serve the Pavlova (or up to an hour ahead) whisk the filling ingredients together. Now put one third of the strawberries into a Mini Chopper or a processor along with one dessertspoon of sugar, then sieve into a bowl. Halve the remaining strawberries leaving the small ones whole.
Then lift the Pavlova from the liner and place it on a serving dish or a stand. Next spoon the vanilla cream into the centre, arrange the strawberries on top and dust with a little sifted icing sugar and pour the purée over just before serving, cut into wedges.
Note: any soft fruit can be used, strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants are particular nice and in the winter it works really well with passion fruit.