Ok, before anyone says anything, its November so we are now officially allowed to talk about CHRISTMAS!! It really is the most wonderful time of year and this year I was contacted by Wren Kitchens to get involved with ‘Wren’s Christmas Kitchen’ campaign. Of course I said yes, any excuse to start getting festive.
I was asked to write about a classic Christmas recipe with a twist. As soon as I heard the brief, I knew what I was going to do – a Christmas pavlova wreath. I made this for the first time last year for Boxing day pud and it went down a storm. After the excessive amounts of turkey, ham, roast potatoes and Christmas pud, this pavlova is a ‘light’ but delicious alternative for Boxing day ( I say light, its still oozing with double cream and raspberry coulis but that can all slide down quite easily into the dessert tummy 🙂 I love the idea of taking a classic and giving it the Christmas treatment – a real show stopper to put on the dining table for friends and family to enjoy.
I have used frozen berries in this recipe. Fresh berries, such as strawberries and raspberries, aren’t in season over the Christmas period so frozen is a great alternative and a fraction of the cost. I also think frozen berries make a lovely coulis as they melt and let out all their natural, yummy juices. I have used a Meringue Girls method for making my meringue, it makes a nice stiff meringue that is easy to shape, perfect for wreath building.
To see my pavlova wreath along with all the other lovely Christmas bakes then go to the Wren Kitchens blog #WrensChristmasKitchen. I can’t decide which Christmas bake to do next …
Christmas pavlova wreath
5 egg whites
10 oz caster sugar
I normally use grams for my recipes but this is my mums meringue recipe and we always use 2 oz caster sugar per egg white
2 handfuls of frozen mixed berries
1 tbsp caster sugar
450 ml double cream, whipped
3 handfuls of frozen mixed berries
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Pour in the caster sugar and heat it in the oven for 5 minutes until the edges start to caramelise just slightly. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture.
Note: I have a new oven and I am still getting to grips with the temperature so I left my sugar in a little too long and it caramelised a little too much – the sugar just needs to be warm.
Meanwhile whisk the egg whites in a free standing mixer. At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Take the sugar out of the oven and turn the oven down to 100 degrees C. With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar. Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff and glossy mixture. To check the meringue is ready, rub a little between your finger and thumb. If you can still feel grains of sugar it needs a little longer.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dab a little of the mixture into the corners of the tray to secure the parchment in place. Draw a circle on the parchment so you have a guide for your wreath. Use a large spoon to blob spoonfuls of meringue around the circle guide. I made quite a small circle so I made my meringue double height but you can make yours as big or small as you like.
As I said, my Christmas pavlova wreath was double height so I baked long and slow, for just oven an hour and a half at 100 degrees C. If you are making yours one layer, I would recommend baking at 140 degrees C for an hour. Tap the meringue and if its slightly golden and sounds hollow, turn the oven off. Leave to cool completely in the oven.
To make the coulis, place the frozen berries in a small saucepan on a low heat. Allow to thaw slightly and then add caster sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve completely. Once the berries start to soften, use the back of a fork to mush them up so they release all their juices. Once the mixture begins to boil remove from the heat and use a sieve to remove the seeds and skins. You will be left with a gorgeous, deep red, glossy coulis.
Note: As you can see my Christmas pavlova wreath was slightly browner than I had hoped for. I blame the new oven ….. just be careful not to put the wreath in when the oven is too hot.
Once the Christmas pavlova has completely cooled you are ready to decorate. Spoon the whipped double cream around the wreath and sprinkle over the mixed berries. I leave my frozen berries out of the freezer for an hour so they thaw out before I use them. The coulis tends to soften the meringue so I would add this just before serving. For that extra Christmas feel, add a few holly leaves and serve.