Forced rhubarb is very much in season right now and it’s a beautiful burst of colour.
As a child I hated rhubarb. It was something sour, stringy and celery-like that sat beneath a dense layer of crumble and was thrust upon me quite often at mealtimes. Now, after discovering the forced variety and learning to cook it in a sympathetic way (rather than boiling the flavour out of it), I have come to love it. Poaching the fruit is one of my favourite ways to serve it. A sprinkle of sugar and covered with foil, the oven works its magic as the rhubarb sweetens and produces a delicious pink syrup. This liquid is so versatile, you can use it to drizzle over your dessert, like I have here. Or you can reduce it down over a gentle heat to form a thicker, more concentrated syrup that can be used in cocktails like Kir Royale, or stirred through ice-cream to create a ripple before freezing.
These pavlovas are perfect for a dinner party. It’s a dessert that you can make ahead and then assemble just before you eat it. If you don’t want to make individual meringue nests, you can make one large pavlova. The cooking time will remain the same. The reason these meringues have such a long slow cooking time is to dry them out and produce a crisp, colourless meringue. If you cook meringue quicker, it will brown lightly and remain chewy on the inside. If you’re not a lover of rhubarb like me, then berries, nectarines or plums that have been poached will work in the same way and all will produce a delicious sticky syrup for you to garnish the pavlovas with.
75g Egg Whites (approx. 3 eggs)
100g Caster Sugar
200g Forced Rhubarb
25g Caster Sugar
300ml Whipping Cream
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, draw 6 circles on the sheet of paper that are 7.5cm in diameter.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of a food mixer and whisk until they begin to foam.
Add half the caster sugar and whisk to form soft peaks.
Continue to whisk and add the remaining sugar a little at a time, whisk to form a stiff meringue.
Use a spoon to heap mounds of meringue into the circles and create a dip with the spoon so that they have a nest appearance.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 90C Fan for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180C Fan, trim the rhubarb into 6cm sticks, toss the rhubarb in the sugar and place it in a small baking dish.
Cover it with foil and place it in the oven and poach for 25 minutes.
The rhubarb should be tender, but not mushy. Leave to cool.
To assemble, whip the cream to stiff peaks, take a meringue nest, fill it with cream and top with a few pieces of rhubarb and some of the poaching liquid.
Angela Field PatisserieMakesPerfect