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27.12.2014- Adventures in Baking: Winter Fruit Pavlova

There is no denying that this time of the year is definitely one for over indulging. Whether you're surrounded by mince pies at every turn or are haunted by the ghost of Christmas puddings past, the festive season is synonymous with lots of lovely sweet treats. Having said that, with lots of  food on offer, it can prove to be a bit of a testing time for your willpower and your waistband alike. Personally, I'm always on the lookout for some lovely alternatives to whisk up in the kitchen, and if the last couple of days have left you crying out for an alternative to brandy soaked everything, then I've got the perfect alternative: a Winter Fruit Pavlova.

I don't know about you, but around the festive season I tend to find that I (rather guiltily!) shun my daily fresh staples in favour of some more indulgent, opulent treats. Ferrero Rocher for breakfast? Well, it's Christmas after all! However, after a little while I find myself longing for a break from the chocolate- so when Fruitdrop challenged me to rustle up a recipe using some ingredients from one of their staple fruit boxes, I jumped at the opportunity. After musing long and hard about what to make, I settled on an old favourite, but adding something of a seasonal twist...

Winter Fruit Pavlova

3 egg whites, 175g caster sugar, 3 pears, 2 apples, 3 plums, cinnamon, 3 star anise, mixed spice,
3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, juice and rind of one orange, 2 sharon fruit,  pulped and strained,
250 ml double cream and water for poaching

1) Begin by making the meringue base for your pavlova. Set the oven to 140 degrees fan before carefully separating your egg whites from the yolks. 
2) Whisk the egg whites for approximately thirty seconds, until they are quite foamy in appearance. 
3) Slowly sprinkle the sugar over the egg whites little by little. Make sure to briefly whisk the mixture after each addition of sugar. Keep going until all of the sugar is incorporated and the meringue mixture is stiff- you should be able to hold the bowl over your head without any drips!

4) Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and carefully spoon the meringue out. I tend to shape the mixture into a rough circle, but make sure to leave plenty of space around the edges of the tray to allow for any spreading during the cooking process.
5) Carefully pop your meringue into the oven, and bake for about an hour. I tend to find that my meringue looks fairly cooked after about 40 minutes or so, so I turn the oven down by about ten degrees at this point just to stop it from burning. 
6) Whilst the meringue is cooking, start preparing the fruit. Wash the pears, plums and apples and ensure that the apples and pears are thoroughly peeled in preparation for poaching. Fill a large pan of water and allow to simmer gently at a low heat.
7) As the water warms up, add the orange juice and rind, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and mixed spice individually- I tend to add a tablespoon or two of each spice, but obviously depending on your palette feel free to add as much or as little as you like! Stir everything together after each addition to make sure it's fully dissolved.
8) Once the water has reached a low boil, pop in the peeled apples and pears, stirring through gently. Almost allow the water to come to a complete boil before removing the mixture from the heat- at this point the fruit should be soft, but still hold its shape and not be too pulpy. Leave to sit and cool before carefully removing the fruit from the liquid.

9) When your meringue is completely cooked, leave to cool inside the oven as you turn it off- this helps to make sure it doesn't sink or crack too much when you come to assemble the final dish.
10) My Fruitdrop delivery included some sharon fruit, which I pulped down and sieved to make a sweet sauce to drizzle over the pavlova. If you want to do something similar, simply peel the fruit flesh away from the skin, mash up gently in a bowl using a fork and strain into a jug to remove any leftover pulp. Then pop into the fridge until you're ready to add your finishing touches.
11) Once the meringue is completely cooled, remove from the oven, carefully peeling away from the greaseproof paper. Begin to assemble your pavlova by placing it on a serving dish or your choice, before whipping the cream and carefully spreading on top of the meringue.
12) Next up, carefully slice the fruit, making sure that the poached apples and pairs have been drained. Whilst the poached fruit is quite soft and easy to chop through, the plums can be a little bit on the tricky side, so well worth using a sharp knife here- taking care to avoid any cuts!
13) Arrange your sliced fruit on top of the pavlova and decorate as you like.
14) Serve and enjoy!

Have you tried any alternative winter baking this Christmas? And do you like the idea of Fruitdrop?

*This post has been put together in collaboration with Fruitdrop. As always, my opinions and impressions are 100% honest- much like my undying love of dessert! 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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