The plums are cooked for a short time to keep their shape. But they could also be cooked for much longer if you prefer to make more of a compôte for this spicy late summer dessert.
For the pavlova
- 5 free-range egg whites
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 250g/9oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
For the cherries
- 100g/3½oz dried cherries
- 100ml/3½fl oz kirsch
For the spiced plums
- 200ml/7fl oz red wine
- 1 orange, juice only
- 75g/2¾oz light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- few cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- few allspice berries, lightly crushed
- 1 piece pared orange zest
- 8 ripe plums, stoned and quartered
- 300ml/10fl oz double or whipping cream, whipped
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2. Draw a circle of around 23cm/9in in diameter on a sheet of baking parchment and then use the sheet to line a baking tray.
Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk, until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, then start adding this gradually to the eggs, a tablespoon at a time to start with and then slightly more, beating between each addition, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Sprinkle over the vinegar and fold in.
Use a few blobs of the meringue to secure the baking parchment to the baking tray, then pile the rest into the marked circle. Make a slight indentation in the middle and allow the meringue to come to peaks around the side.
Bake in the oven for around an hour and 15 minutes, to an hour and a half. The meringue should be crisp round the sides but with some give in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue to cool completely.
To make the filling, put the dried cherries in a small saucepan with the kirsch. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer until the cherries are soft and plump and most of the kirsch has been absorbed.
To make the spiced plums, heat the wine, orange juice, sugar, spices and orange zest into a saucepan. Stir on the low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Add the plums and poach in the liquid for a few minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.
Remove the plums from the liquid, peeling off the skins as you go – they should just fall off. Strain the cooking liquid.
To assemble, add the icing sugar and cinnamon (if using) to the whipped cream, then stir a couple of tablespoons of the plum liquid with the cherries. Put the cream over the meringue base, top with the plums and drizzle over any remaining liquid.