As spring plays hide and seek with us I have put together a special Finger, Fork & Knife pavlova that sings of warmer days and longer nights. The crisp and chewy cardamom and pistachio meringue base, rich in spice and little green nuggets of chopped pistachios, provides and cloud-like layer beneath the creamy lemon-spiked filling, honey roasted peaches and fresh blueberries. With a crunchy oat crumble sprinkled on top and a dusting of icing sugar, this pavlova will take you to the spring/summer months of your dreams within seconds.
FOR THE CARDAMOM SUGAR:
300g (approx. 1 cup) caster sugar
2 tbsp ground cardamom
FOR THE PEACHES:
3 peaches, halved and stoned
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Pedro Ximénez (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR THE CRUMBLE:
½ cup spelt flour
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tbsp unsalted butter,
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp linseeds
Pinch of sea salt
FOR THE PAVLOVA:
6 free-range eggs, whites only
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled, finely crushed with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor
200ml double cream
200ml natural yoghurt
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 punnets fresh blueberries* to serve
Icing sugar, to serve
*Thaw some frozen blueberries if not in season
Preheat oven to 180C
Place the halved peaches into a roasting dish and drizzle with honey, Pedro Ximénez (if using) and vanilla. Toss to make sure they are coated evenly and pop into the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, until soft and caramalised. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle slice into quarters. Pop into the fridge until ready to top the finished pavlova.
While the oven is still hot, prepare the crumble. Combine flour, oats, linseeds, sugar and butter in a bowl. Pinch together with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Tip onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
Reduce heat of the oven to 150C
Combine the sugar and cardamom in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Wipe the bowl you are going to whisk the egg whites in with the cut side of a lemon – this is to make sure the bowl is free from any oils that might interfere with the whipping of the eggs.
Place egg whites into the bowl and whisk them at a medium speed until frothy and starting to hold firm peaks.
With the mixer still running, gradually pour in the cardamom sugar and a pinch of salt. Increase the speed of the mixer and whisk on high for 7-8 minutes until the mixture is white, glossy and smooth. To tell if the meringue is ready pinch a little bit of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If it is grainy then continue to mix until smooth, being careful not to over mix.
Add the crushed pistachios and gently fold into the mixture.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Divide the meringue mixture evenly between them and roughly shape each blob into a circle. Pop trays into the oven and bake for 1 hour until the meringue is just coloured – try not to open the door while the meringue is baking.
Once cooked leave the oven door slightly ajar and let the meringues cool completely inside the oven.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form, add yoghurt, the juice and zest of half a lemon and fold in gently – taste and adjust lemony-ness to your liking. Spoon half the cream mixture on top of one of the meringue halves. Scatter over half of the blueberries, some of the oats and pistachios. Place the other meringue on top and press down gently. Dollop the remaining cream on top and spread out. Arrange peaches on top and sprinkle with remaining blueberries, oats, extra pistachios and a dusting of icing sugar. Serve.