A pavlova is a fantastic way to feed a crowd over the festive period. You can use your favourite fillings but this one uses chocolate, hazelnuts and pear.
For the pavlova
- 6 large free-range egg whites
- 375g/13oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour
For the filling
- 75g/3oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 300ml/10fl oz double cream
- 300ml/10fl oz Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g/2oz icing sugar, sieved
- 4 poached pears or 2 x 400g tins pear halves in syrup, cut into large pieces
- 50g/2oz toasted hazelnuts, halved
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw a 15cm/6in circle in the centre and a 30cm/12in circle around the outside to make a ring.
Place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk on full speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, still whisking on maximum speed until stiff and glossy. Mix the vinegar and cornflour together in a small bowl until smooth then stir into the egg until combined.
Spoon the mixture inbetween the lines of the ring. Make a trench in the meringue using the back of a spoon. Place in the oven then immediately reduce the temperature to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1 and bake for 1–1½ hours or until firm to the touch. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven until cool.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, do not let the water touch the bowl. Stir until melted then keep warm.
Whip the cream to soft peaks using an electric whisk, stir in the yogurt, vanilla, icing sugar and half the pear pieces. Spoon the cream into the meringue trench, arrange the remaining pears over the top and scatter with hazelnuts. Fill a small piping bag with the melted chocolate and pipe a zigzag pattern over the top. Cut into wedges to serve.