Muscovado Pavlova with maple cream, poached plums, fresh figs and blackberries, topped with maple caramelized pecans

IMG_4504 Muscovado Pavlova with Poached and Fresh Fruits.

Comfort, generosity and togetherness are the themes for Christmas 2017. Encapsulating these ideas perfectly , this sumptuous dessert is a joy to behold and to eat.  Warmth of flavour is its storyline, provided by the two varieties of muscovado sugar in the soft mallowy meringue; the vanilla, winter spices and bay leaves in the red wine poaching syrup; and the addition of maple syrup to the sweetened cream topping. Don’t be put off by the long to do list. The nuts, courtesy of Ottolenghi, can be prepared in advance and stored in a jar. The Pavlova base can be frozen for several weeks, and the plums can be poached the day before needed. This all means that on the day, all that is required is to whip the cream and put this spectacular creation together.

Maple Caramelised Pecans

 Make these ahead of time and store in an airtight jar. I  prepare double the quantity as they make delicious snacks and sprinkles for just about anything from porridge to salads.

Ingredients:

150g pecan halves

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon liquid glucose

A good pinch of flaked sea salt.

Method:

Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 200c/gas 6

Put the sugar, maple syrup and the liquid glucose into a small pan. Set over a low heat and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pecans and the salt and stir well until the pecans are coated in the syrup. Tip the nuts onto the prepared baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for 8 minutes or until they syrup is bubbling. Remove from the heat and leave the nuts to cool and set. Once cooled separate the nuts and store in an airtight jar.

IMG_4488

Muscovado Pavlova and Maple caramelised pecans.

Ingredients:

3 large or 4 medium egg whites

¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt

125g caster sugar

50g light muscovado sugar

50g dark muscovado sugar

2 teaspoons corn flour

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Method:

Line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment and draw a 23cm circle onto the paper. Pre heat the oven to 140c/gas 1.

Put the caster sugar and the light muscovado sugar into a mixing bowl. Blitz together the dark muscovado sugar and the cornflour in a small coffee grinder to combine and reduce any hard lumps in the dark sugar. Add to the mixing bowl and blend the sugars well together using your fingertips.

Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl with the salt and whisk until soft peaks form.

Add the sugar in 3-4 goes, whisking well between each addition until the sugar is incorporated and the meringue is glossy and very stiff and ‘mallowy’. Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk briefly to mix.

Pile the meringue onto the circle on the baking sheet and spread to the edges leaving a dip in the centre.

Bake for 1 hour until the shell is crisp and dry to touch. Turn off the oven and allow the Pavlova to cool there for a further hour and then remove it and cool completely on a wire tray. The Pavlova shell will freeze at this stage for several weeks in an airtight freezer box.

Plums poached in a spicy red wine syrup

IMG_4491

Plums poaching in spiced red wine syrup

These are happily made the day before needed stored in the fridge.

Ingredients:

10-12 red or mauve plums

300ml red wine

150g caster sugar

1 star anise

5 allspice berries

½ stick cinnamon

½ vanilla pod, split lengthways

2 bay leaves

2 strips of orange zest, pith removed

Method

Put the red wine and sugar into a high sided sauté pan. Over a gentle heat, dissolve the sugar. Add the star anise, allspice berries, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod, the bay leaves and orange zest, increase the heat and bring the syrup to a simmer.

Halve and stoned plums and place cut side down in the syrup. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer the plums for about 10 minutes or until they begin to soften but still retain their shape. The time will depend on the type of plum used. Remove the plum halves from the syrup, placing them cut side up in a single layer in a baking dish. Remove the spices and bay leaves adding them to the plums. set aside to cool.

Return the red wine syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for a few minutes until syrupy. Pour into a heatproof jug and cool.

Fresh fruit:

150g fresh blackberries

2 small ripe figs, sliced

Maple cream:

Ingredients

300ml double cream

100ml maple syrup

Method

Pour the cream and maple syrup into a large mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks are formed.

To Assemble:

IMG_4516 (2)

Decadent and delicious. Muscovado Pavlova with maple cream, poached plums, blackberries and fresh figs sprinkled with caramelised pecans.

Pile the maple cream onto the Pavlova spreading just to the edges. Halve the poached plums and arrange over the cream. Scatter over the blackberries and arrange the sliced fig pieces.

Spoon over a little of the reserved plum syrup to glaze the fruits, decadently drizzling it over the edge of the Pavlova. The nuts can be left whole of roughly chopped and arranged or scattered over the fruit.

Chill until required – it will keep for several hours before serving.

Happy Christmas.

Links to further Christmas recipes:

Christmas Breakfast in a Pot: Flavoursome home-made yoghurt topped with lashings of fresh fruit.

Christmas gift ideas from Stirring Stuff: Fabulous Fudge

White Chocolate and Coffee Roulade with a Mango Coulis

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