Yes, this is too big for most family gatherings this year, but a massive pavlova is such a joyful thing (not least when topped with meringue chicks) that I can’t bear to scale down. Leftovers make a lemony Eton mess, or stir them together and freeze in a tub to eat as ice cream.
Prep time: 40 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour, plus cooling
- 200g egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
- 300g caster sugar
- Yellow and red food colouring
- A few currants to decorate
- 300ml double cream
- 1 jar (about 300g) good-quality lemon curd
- 4 passion fruit, halved
- Little chocolate eggs (optional)
- Mint leaves and edible flowers (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/Gas 2. While it heats up, line a rimmed baking sheet with baking parchment and spread the sugar on it. Put it in the oven for five minutes to warm up. Line a second sheet with parchment.
- Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks, then add the warmed sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the time, until stiff and glossy. Spoon three quarters of the meringue on to one of the lined baking sheets, forming it into a nest about 20cm across.
- Colour the remaining meringue with the yellow food colouring. Using two dessert spoons, drop small neat ovals on to the second baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Use two teaspoons to drop a little round blob (for the chick’s head) on each oval. With the flat of a knife pat the sides of the chicks, to pull out points of meringue for tail, wings and a tuft on top of the head. Use tiny pieces of currant for the eyes, and mix some red colouring into the leftover yellow meringue to make a bright orange; apply a tiny point to make a beak.
- Bake the pavlova and chicks for an hour (keep an eye on them and remove earlier if you think they are colouring), then turn off the heat and let them cool in the oven with the door closed. If you are making them a day ahead, store in an airtight container.
- To assemble, whip the cream softly. Stir the curd to loosen and then marble through the cream. Add the seeds and juice from the passion fruit and pile it on the meringue. Arrange the chicks on top, and decorate with chocolate eggs, mint and flowers if you like.
Drop the meringue from the tip of the spoon to make a round blob, and from the side to make an oval shape.