Berry Pavlova

Berry Pavlova
filled with a homemade vanilla custard

The Pavlova allegedly originating in Wellington New Zealand, is believed to have been created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova who visited that country in 1926 on her world tour. A deliciously simple dish, and bordering on decadence it can still test the skills of most chefs and home cooks.

2 cups of fresh berries of your choice

4 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

2 cups milk
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
2 tbps sugar

1 cup mixed frozen berries
150g castor sugar
100ml cold water
1 tsp vanilla paste


for the meringue…
Preheat oven to 120ºC
In a dry, clean bowl, beat the egg whites vigorously until they appear foamy.
Add the cream of tartar and salt, and continue beating until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar gradually, about 50 ml at a time, until they form stiff peaks and meringue appears glossy.
Gently, fold in the last 50 ml sugar together with the vanilla.
Spread half of the meringue into the shape of a circle on a greased baking tray, approx. 200mm wide and 10mm thick.
With remainder of mixture, pipe or spoon swirls around the edges to form a shallow bowl. Shape the sides to be approx. 25-30mm high.
Bake the meringue 1,5 hour. Switch off the oven, and leave the meringue to dry out for another 2 hours.

*chefs tips:
1. Make sure that your utensils and surfaces have NO fat residue, because fat prohibits the rise/aeration of your meringue.
2. If the oven is too hot the meringue will be dark in colour and tough inside; if not thoroughly dried out, will shrink and be soft inside.

for the custard…
With a pairing knife, cut your vanilla pod in half lengthwise. With the back of the knife, scarpe out all the seeds and add it to your milk with the pod.
Bring the milk to boil.
Beat the eggs and sugar together. Stirring continuously, add the hot milk to your egg mixture slowly.
Return mixture to your pot and cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously. The custard is done as soon as it is thick enough to coat at the back of the spoon.
Pour through a sieve into a bowl and cover immediately with cling wrap and allow to cool.

for the coulis…
Combine the coulis ingredients in a heavy based saucepan.
Bring to the boil over a high heat.
Drop heat slightly and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the berries are soft.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth, then strain through a sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a spoon.

Place your meringue bowl onto a serving dish.
Pour your cooled custard in
Sprinkle with fresh berries and drizzle with some coulis.