“Unless you have properly trained domestic help on the night, do not attempt over-elaborate menus that require extensive last-minute preparations and prolonged absences in the kitchen away from your guests. The same simplicity applies to the presentation of the food, which should be attractive but not pretentious – your guests have come to see you, not judge an examination for HND Cuisine Artistique.”
John Morgan, ‘Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette & Modern Manners’
This is my favourite centrepiece dessert, as it looks really attractive in the centre of the table and can be chilled in the fridge until ready to be served.
8 large eggs, whites only * pinch of salt * 395g (14oz) caster sugar * 595g (1lb 5oz) fresh berries of your choice * 1 mango, peeled and cubed * 1 lemon, juice and zest * 1 tbsp caster sugar * 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar * 2 sprigs of mint * 1 vanilla pod * 2 tbsp icing sugar * 375mls (12 floz) double cream * 200g (7oz) Greek yogurt
Pre-heat the oven to 130°C/250°F/Gas 1/2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Then gradually add the caster sugar. Mix for 8 minutes until the mixture is smooth (best to use a free-standing mixer). Line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper, then draw a 23cm/9 inch circle on each sheet. Divide the whites between the sheets and flick up the peaks for decorative purposes. Bake the meringues in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave them in there to cool.
Pick out half of the best looking fruit and put to one side for decorating the pavlova. Add the lemon juice, 1 tbsp caster sugar and balsamic vinegar, mix together and leave to macerate whilst you make the chantilly cream. Halve the vanilla pods and scrape out the seeds into a bowl with the icing sugar. Pour in the cream and whisk until soft peaks form (don’t overwhip). Fold in the Greek yogurt,
Assemble the pavlova by picking the worst looking meringue and putting three-quarters of the chantilly cream on it. Add the macerated berries and juice over the top. Put the prettier meringue on top, with the remaining cream and attractive berries. Sprinkle on the lemon zest and add the sprigs of mint. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
This recipe comes from the section CENTREPIECE DESSERTS, a selection of desserts which can be made in advance and look fabulous as a centrepiece to your dinner or buffet table.
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