I have to confess to never having eaten fresh cranberries before.
Up until recently they have never been grown commercially in the UK so we very rarely see them in the shops and if we do they are normally quite expensive. Now that they have started growing them in Kent I’m sure they will play a bigger part in our seasonal cooking. When I spotted them for sale in our local supermarket I decided to try them out.
This dessert was featured in the December issue of Food & Travel and just looked and sounded too good not to try. It is not a quick dessert to make but it is one that can easily be prepared in advance and would then only take a couple of minutes to plate up. I did cheat a teeny weeny bit and used tinned mandarins instead of fresh orange and I think it probably added more flavour. You could of course also use shop bought pavlovas but the chocolate in these make them extra special. I used a good quality chocolate and I think it definitely makes a difference to the end result.
When I came to make the topping I thought I would taste a couple of the berries to find out what they were like but Oh My Goodness did I get a shock. They were truly awful and left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I was very dubious about how the topping would taste once cooked.
Once cooked, though they were delicious. The finished dessert was really delicious and the different textures and flavours were just heavenly. Although not light in calories it feels light to eat and would be perfect for after a heavy Christmas meal.
Definitely one of my favourites.
Cranberry, Orange and Chocolate Pavlovas
- 100g orange flavoured chocolate
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 tblsp cornflour
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 0.5 tsp vanilla essence
- 150g fresh cranberries
- 4 tblsp caster sugar
- 1 tblsp orange flavoured liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 1 large orange, zested then peeled and segmented
- 300mls double cream
- Preheat oven to 190°C (325°F) and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Break the orange flavoured chocolate into a small bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water.
- Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
- Whisk until soft peaks form.
- Add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time and whisk well between each addition, reserving 2 tsps of sugar for later.
- Once the sugar has been added, the meringue should be very stiff.
- Sift the cornflour over the meringue and fold through very gently.
- Mix the remaining 2 tsps of sugar with the vinegar and vanilla essence and fold into the meringue until well mixed.
- Take a tablespoon of mixture at a time and place 4 piles on each tray. Spread out into individual 9cm circles.
- Drizzle a little melted chocolate over each and swirl gently through the meringue using a toothpick.
- Place small spoonfuls of meringue mixture around the edge of each circle to build up slightly.
- Drizzle some more melted chocolate over the meringue mixture and swirl gently with the toothpick.
- Cook for 5 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 110°C (225°F) and cook for a further 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container until needed.
- Put the cranberries in a saucepan with the sugar, orange liqueur, orange zest and any juice left behind from segmenting the orange.
- Heat gently, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar.
- Cook until the cranberries just start to burst.
- Cool completely before assembling the meringues.
- Whisk the cream until it just holds its shape but is still a bit floppy.
- Pile some of the cream into the centre of each pavlova.
- Place the orange segments and the cranberry mixture on top of the cream.
- Top with some chocolate shavings and dust with icing sugar.
To make the meringues
To make the topping