Crunchy, gooey meringue; smooth, silky cream and tangy grapefruit: pavlova is a dessert that practically has it all –  especially this version from food-fad-fighting cook, writer and former body-piercer Gizzi Erskine. "The base of this pavlova is a recipe by my beloved meringue girls," she says. "They do a really clever trick in roasting the sugar and adding into the whipping egg whites, which makes a much more stable, marshmallowy meringue that cooks to that perfect crunchy outside and chewy middle. I’ve topped the pavlova with the most brilliant Florida grapefruit curd and then some caramelised, dehydrated Florida grapefruit thins. It’s fine, grown up and elegant, but with cheeky hints of sherbet and bittersweet. A centrepiece of a pudding for special occasions."

Ingredients

For the meringue

  • 5 free range egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar

For the whipped cream topping

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp seedy vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp icing sugar

For the curd

  • 150ml strained Florida grapefruit juice
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg and 4 egg yolks
  • 75g unsalted butter

For the caramelised grapefruit

  • 2 whole Florida grapefruits, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Method

  1. To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large flat baking tray with greaseproof paper. Line a deep roasting tray with greaseproof paper, pour in the sugar and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes until the edges are about to melt. Heating the sugar helps to create a more stable, glossy mixture.
  2. Separate the egg whites into a large bowl and begin to whisk slowly, allowing small bubbles to form, then increase the speed gradually until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
  3. Turn your oven down to 100°C. While you whisk at speed, add the hot sugar to the egg whites one spoon at a time. Once you have added all of the sugar, continue to whisk for a further 5-7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy.
  4. To make the caramelised grapefruit thins, places the sliced Florida grapefruit onto baking paper on a baking sheet sprinkle with the caster sugar. Place in the bottom of the oven while the pavlova is cooking. They will be caramelised and dehydrated after about 1-2 hours. Keep an eye on them so the sugar doesn’t scorch. Remove from the baking sheet straight away and place onto a wire rack where they will continue to dehydrate and crisp up.
  5. Spread onto the baking tray in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter. Make a well in the centre. Cook in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the door a little ajar and leave to cool in the oven for 1 hour.
  6. To make the curd, put the Florida grapefruit juice, sugar and egg in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Cover with cling film, then leave to cool. Once cool pop in the fridge to firm up and set.
  7. Whip the cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until thick enough to hold its shape, but still soft – there's nothing worse than foamy, over-whipped cream.
  8. Remove the meringue from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature. You don’t want to leave it anywhere too cold, so you can do this by leaving the oven door open if you think your kitchen is too chilly.
  9. Remove from the greaseproof paper onto a nice serving plate. Smooth over cream with a palette knife, followed by the curd. Finally arrange the dried Florida grapefruit prettily on top and serve.

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