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Mary’s Christmas Pavlova

Serves 12 – 15 

For the pavlova

6 large egg whites

350g caster sugar

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp cornflour

For the filling

600ml double cream

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

50g icing sugar, sifted

200g strawberries, hulled and quartered

300g raspberries

200g blueberries

50g pomegranate seeds

a few mint leaves, to decorate, optional

icing sugar, for dusting

1.  Preheat the oven to 160˚C/fan 140˚C fan/gas 3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and draw a 30cm circle on the paper.  Draw a 15cm circle in the centre of the 30cm circle.

2.  Put six egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until they look like clouds. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking on maximum speed until they are stiff and glossy. Mix the vinegar and corn flour in a cup until smooth, then stir into the bowl.

3.  Spoon the meringue between the 2 circles on the baking parchment, to make a wreath shape.  Using a large spoon make a trench in the meringue for the cream and fruit to sit in.   Slide into the oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 140˚C/fan 120C/gas 1 and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside for an hour or overnight to dry.

4.  To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla & icing sugar until just stiff.  Spoon the cream into the trench in the meringue.  Arrange the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate on top and decorate with a few mint leaves, if using. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cut in wedges.

The pavlova can be made up to 1 month ahead and stored: wrap it in cling film and then foil and keep in a cool place.