Never do I let a festive season go by without a pavlova. It is my ideal, make-ahead dessert and always delivers, bringing the wow factor without too much effort. The coffee cream in this one gives it a bit of a tiramisu vibe, while the orange liqueur-soaked clementines help cut through some of the richness. I’ve made these in individually sized portions, so they’re a bit more manageable, but you can take them even smaller, for canapes, or go big for a proper showstopping centrepiece.
Espresso and clementine pavlovas
Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr
Chill 4 hr +
For the meringue
280g caster sugar
4 large egg whites (about 160g)
½ tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cornflour
For the coffee cream
450ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1½ tbsp instant coffee
4 egg yolks
90g caster sugar
200ml double cream
For the clementines
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
Cacao nibs, to top
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and line two oven trays with baking paper.
For the meringue, put the sugar in a deep roasting dish and put it in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until the sugar is hot. Remove and turn down the oven to 130C (110C fan)/250F/gas ½.
In a large, clean bowl or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy and with soft peaks. With the mixer running, add the hot sugar gradually, letting each addition dissolve before adding more. The meringue mixture should now be thick and glossy.
Spoon eight dollops of meringue on to the lined trays and use the back of a spoon to make a well in the centre of each. Dust with cocoa powder and bake for 40-45 minutes: the meringues are done when they are firm to the touch and lift off the paper without sticking. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside for a few hours, until cooled completely.
To make the coffee cream, put the milk and vanilla in a saucepan, heat until steaming, then stir in the coffee until it’s dissolved. Take off the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk in the cornflour, then a quarter of the hot milk. Pour in the rest of the milk, then pour everything back into the saucepan and whisk – within a minute or two, the mixture will begin to thicken. Let it come to a boil, then take off the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Cover with clingfilm, letting it touch the surface of the custard, so it doesn’t form a skin. Cool to room temperature, then chill for four hours.
Before serving, give the coffee custard a whisk to remove any lumps. In another bowl, whisk the double cream into stiff peaks, then fold gently through the custard.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the clementines, then one by one stand each fruit upright and, following its natural curves, cut off the skin and pith. Slice the clementines thinly, then put these in a shallow dish and toss in the sugar and liqueur.
Fill the meringue shells with the coffee cream, top with a few clementine slices and their liqueury juices, and finish with some cacao nibs.