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Brown sugar pavlova with hazelnut praline & poached pears
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400g golden caster sugar
50g Billington’s Dark Brown Soft Sugar
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
500ml red wine
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 star anise
1 lemon, strips of peel (pith removed)
4 conference pears, peeled, halved and cored
100g blanched hazelnuts
300ml Essential Double Cream
1. Preheat the oven to 150˚C, gas mark 2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and draw a 20cm circle in the centre, using a plate as a template. Flip the paper over (you should still be able to see the circle through the paper). In a small bowl, mix 250g golden caster sugar with the brown sugar. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large, clean mixing bowl and use electric beaters to whisk to stiff peaks, then whisk in the mixed sugars, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. It’s ready when you can’t feel grains of sugar between your fingers. Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking tray and swirl into a circle with a spoon, using the template as a guide. Bring the sides up a little to create height. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave to cool for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.
2. Meanwhile, put the wine in a large pan and whisk in 100g caster sugar, the mixed spice, star anise and lemon peel. Bring to a gentle simmer, then add the pear halves and gently poach for 15-20 minutes, until just tender when poked with a knife (the time will depend on the pears’ ripeness). Remove from the heat and allow to cool in their liquid (or chill overnight).
3. Before serving, preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6. Put the nuts on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, until fragrant and toasted; allow to cool then finely chop. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment. Put the remaining 50g caster sugar in a small heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until melted and golden – you can swirl the pan but do not stir. Add the nuts and stir to coat, then pour onto the prepared baking tray and set aside to cool fully.
4. Put 125ml poaching liquid into a small pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes until reduced by 2/3. Allow to cool. Roughly chop the cooled praline, then whizz in the small bowl of a food processor until the size of breadcrumbs. Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then fold in most of the praline until swirled through. Spoon the cream onto the pavlova; top with the pears, reduced poaching liquid and a scattering of the remaining praline.
Typical values per serving:
Vegetarian, gluten free
This recipe was first published in November 2020.