I LOVE Christmas! Don’t you? Nothing celebrates happy holidays in Australia like Pavlova. Mind you, while I could definitely do without the claustrophobic shopping crowds, I do enjoy the pre-Christmas get-togethers with good friends, secret Santa and family holidays on the coast each year.
One of my most cherished Christmas traditions is held with my Grandma Doris each year. After my grandad passed away in 2004, I began taking Grandma to midnight mass (she used to go with Grandad). Mass is always preceded by Grandma and I watching ‘Carols by Candle Light’ on TV and then we head over the church at around 11pm. It’s my one- time Church gig per year outside of weddings, christenings and funerals. It makes Grandma really happy and I know if I didn’t drive her, she wouldn’t go so I’m pleased to do this little gesture for her each year.
The following morning, Grandma lets me sleep in but she’s up at 6am to put the turkey on then goes back to bed for a little nap. A bit later on, we load up the car with all of her presents, the dog and the turkey and head to my parents place for a large family lunch of which I am Head Chef.
Lunch usually consists of turkey, pork, ham and baked vegetables with gravy followed by Grandma’s Christmas pudding for dessert. After lunch, we gather around the tree and dad has gift- giver duties. My little niece and nephew get excited for the first 10 minutes then present opening fatigue sets in without fail! Me personally, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of opening presents so the more the merrier!
For my Christmas post this year I had planned to road test and photograph the secret family Christmas Pudding recipe, of which I’m reliably told, I am at least the 5th generation to make. However, the family custodians of the recipe kindly let me know it was for family eyes only when it was (most gratefully) passed on to me. So, in honouring the great responsibility of the family pudding secrets unfortunately I’m not able to share the recipe with you on this blog (though you can see my first spectacular fail attempt here). But! You do get an awesome Christmas pavlova instead, lucky reader!
The following recipe for pavlova and coulis is adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s master pavlova recipe and made to look like a door wreath. I have to admit, Ive made this a few times and the meringue below is my most successful attempt to date.
Out of trial and error, my tips for successful pavlova are;
- Make sure egg whites are at room temperature – not straight from the fridge – it makes it hard to whip to right consistency
- Add ingredients to meringue in small amounts and consistently as per recipe
- Do not open oven while pavlova is baking
- Do not take pavlova physically out of oven until completely cool
Berry Christmas Pavlova
(Adapted from Stephanie Alexanders master pavlova and coulis recipes)
- 4 eggs whites (at room temperature)
- Pinch of salt
- 250g castor sugar
- 2 tsp of cornflour (sifted)
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 125g fresh raspberries
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup castor sugar
- 1/2 tsp of brandy (optional)
- 300ml fresh cream – whipped
- 1 x pomegrante
- Raspberries, cherries and strawberries to decorate
- Bunch of holly or fresh mint
- Preheat oven to 120C. Line a tray with baking paper. Use a round baking tin to draw one large circle (22cm) then draw another circle inside it approximately 13cm wide.
- Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar, a little at time until meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over sifted cornflour, vinegar and fold in lightly.You should be able to up end the bowl at this stage with no fear of anything coming out.
- Grab a dessert spoon and scoop a dollop of meringue. Place this dollop between the outside and inside line. Repeat until a ring of meringue is complete. Create a second layer of meringue on top of the first until second ring is complete. Flatten the top by smoothing the meringue.
- Place meringue in oven for 2 hours at 120C. When time is complete, turn off the oven and leave meringue in the oven until completely cool. This is very important as there will be less risk of the meringue cracking and collapsing.
- When cool, spread with whipped cream, drizzle on raspberry coulis then decorate with cherries, pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries and holly or mint.
- Blend fresh raspberries, lemon juice and sugar together until sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside until required.