Despite historical facts to the contrary – eating pavlova seems to be a firmly Australian tradition often associated with summer. My mother has always been fond of whipping one up and the variations that can be made are endless even though, sadly, many include banana. This is a slightly over the top version that combines cherries, another summer tradition, and the buttery flavour of macadamias.
- 600 g cherries, pitted
- 70 g (½ cup) macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
- 490 ml water
- 250 g caster sugar
- 500 g sour cherries, pitted
- 20 ml lemon juice
- 40 g milk at room temperature
- 100 g egg yolks
- 40 g cornflour
- 100 g sugar
- 460 ml milk
- 1 vanilla pod, halved and scraped
- 30 ml kirsch
- 500 ml pouring cream
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 pinch of salt
- 200 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ nutmeg, grated
- 2 cloves, finely ground in a mortar and pestle
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- extra cocoa powder, for dusting
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
Freezing time overnight
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and place on a medium heat. As soon as the mixture comes to the boil, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
In a blender, buzz the cherries and the lemon juice together until they are very fine and it’s all looking juicy. This mix needs to go through a fine sieve, hopefully not leaving too much behind.
Whisk together the cherry mix with the sugar syrup until well combined. Pour into a shallow tray and place in your freezer. If you have the inclination, every hour or so for the next 5 hours, give your granita a little mix with a fork as this disperses the ice crystals and leaves you with a fluffier granita at the end. If you don’t have enough time don’t fret, this is a step I never do and it still seems to work out fine. It will need to be made the day before however. Makes about 1 litre (you will have leftovers, but the granita is great in a glass of prosecco or sparkling white).
In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together the milk and the yolks before adding and mixing the cornflour. You will find it comes together to form a paste. Pass this paste through a fine sieve into a medium-sized saucepan.
In a separate saucepan, place the remaining milk, sugar and vanilla pod. Put it on a high heat and watch it carefully as you don’t want it to boil over and leave you with a mess and have to start again. As soon as it comes up, quickly and steadily pour the boiling milk over the paste making sure you are whisking it in vigorously. This step is very important as you don’t want any lumps. You may need a friend to help if you are not feeling co-ordinated enough.
Place this custard mix on a low to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. This should happen quite fast. Once thick, pour the custard into a tray to cool and carefully fish out the vanilla pod. Lay a piece of glad wrap over the surface of the custard, not wrapping the whole tray, as this allows it to cool without a skin forming.
Once your custard has cooled, place it in a large mixing bowl and use a spatula to give it a mix while you admire its silky smooth texture. Gently add the kirsch and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk your cream until you have fairly firm peaks. Place about a third of the cream into your custard and fold in with a spatula until properly combined, at this stage you don’t need to be too gentle. Then, fold in another third of the cream, now being gentle and mix until it’s almost combined. Then the final amount of cream goes in and, in the same gentle manner, fold until you have a smooth and light custard cream.
This mix will sit comfortably in the fridge for a good six to eight hours before you need to use it. (You will only need about two-thirds of the custard but it is difficult to make a smaller batch. Store leftover custard closely wrapped with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
Whisk your egg whites and salt together until they start to form satiny peaks. Combine all your spices and cocoa powder in with the sugar and, in thirds, add the sugar to the whites and whisk until your mix becomes stiff and shiny.
Sprinkle over the vinegar and cornflour and fold into the mix.
Cover a tray with baking paper, turn the meringue onto it and, in a free form manner, shape your pavlova until its mostly round and not too high (about 20 cm in diameter and 5 cm high). Place in an oven preheated to 170°C. As soon as the pavlova goes in, reduce the heat to 150°C and cook for 1 hour. Be careful, the pavlova will spread out!
Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside to cool for about another hour.
Remove the pavlova from the oven and use a sieve to dust over enough cocoa powder to give a light layer.
Remove your granita from the freezer and use a fork to scrape it until it starts looking like soft fluffy snow. Put it back in the freezer until you are ready to serve.
Place your pavlova on glamorous platter and gently cover the top with your kirsch custard cream.
The cherries are up next followed by generous heaping’s of granita. Finish up with the macadamia nuts and serve swiftly before the granita melts.
• Don’t be scared of this recipe, there are lots of things to do but they can all mostly be done beforehand leaving you with just a little flurry of construction right before you serve.
• I prefer to make one big pav but it does get a little messy when serving. If you like, you can bake individual pavs.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.