This is a variation of a recipe handed down to me by my mother, Vera. Mum was a great cook, and at one stage ran the restaurant as well as cooking for a family of nine. She loved to cook this dessert at family get-togethers. You can enjoy this all year around, using whatever fruits are in season. Feel free to make it the day before, but don’t fill it until you are nearly ready to serve. A good pavlova should have a gooey, sticky centre, almost like a marshmallow.
For the Pavlova
– 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
– Pinch of salt
– 225 g (8oz) caster sugar
– 2 tsp cornflour
– 1 tsp white wine vinegar
– ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
– 400 ml (14fl oz) cream
– 50 g (2oz) icing sugar, sifted
– 1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
– Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
– 250 g (9oz) raspberries
– Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate white chocolate curls to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/gas mark 2). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw on a 23cm (9in) circle. Flip the paper over so that the pencil doesn’t transfer to the bottom of the pavlova.
2. Make the meringue in a large, clean, dry bowl. Whisk the egg whites and salt into stiff peaks.
3. Slowly add the sugar, a third at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the mixture is stiffened and shiny. Sprinkle in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract, then fold in gently with a metal spoon.
4. Pile the meringue onto the paper circle and make a deep hollow in the centre. Put in the oven and reduce the heat to 120°C (250°F/gas mark ½).
5. Bake for 1 ½ hours, until pale brown but a little soft in the centre. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow to cool completely.
6. To make the filling, whip the cream in a bowl with the icing sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon rind until thickened and just holding its shape.
7. To serve, peel the parchment paper off the pavlova and carefully transfer to a serving plate or cake stand. Pile on the whipped cream and arrange the raspberries on top, then decorate with the mint sprigs and white chocolate curls. Serve straight to the table in all its glory.
‘The Nations Favourite Healthy Food’ is the latest book by chef Neven Maguire. Since Neven took over the family business in 2001, MacNean House & Restaurant has been consistently winning awards for its food, service, wine offer and overall dining experience. In addition to his Neven Maguire Cookery School, where Neven presents a range of exciting cookery classes for all skill levels, he has also launched his exclusive ‘The Chef’s Table’ dining experience. Hosted in the beautiful and private surrounds of his cookery school, Neven and his team cook in front of diners and present the restaurant’s acclaimed Tasting Menu. Accompanying wines are presented and served by the restaurant’s sommelier.
‘Healthy Home Chef’ airs Wednesdays at 7:30pm on RTÉ 1 from January 27th. ‘The Nation’s Favourite Healthy Food’ is available in stores nationwide and online at nevenmaguire.com.