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Cappucino pavlova

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I am inordinately proud of this, and am not ashamed to say so. I have long been a pava-holic but this is my first venture into a fruit-free (though far from fruitless) version. The instant espresso powder (do not use instant coffee granules) gives bitter oomph to the sweet, marshmallowy meringue, which I make with Two Chicks’ free-range egg whites. I saw Monica use these on MasterChef: The Professionals, and if they’re good enough for her, they’re good enough for me!

Serves

8-10

Ingredients

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 tsps instant espresso powder, not instant coffee
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a flat oven sheet with baking parchment and, using a 23cm cake tin, draw a circle on it.

Step 2: Mix the sugar with the instant espresso powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Step 3: In a clean, grease-free metal bowl whisk the egg whites and salt until they are holding soft peaks (see image 2). Keep whisking while you add the sugar-coffee mixture a tablespoon at a time.

Step 4: When you have a firm, ecru-coloured meringue, fold in the cornflour and vinegar using a grease-free metal spoon.

Step 5: Dollop the meringue mixture inside the drawn circle. Smooth and shape it with a spatula so that it looks rather like the crown of a boater: it must be flat on top.

Step 6: Put it in the oven and immediately turn down to 150°C/gas mark 3 and cook for an hour. Switch off the oven and leave inside until cool.

Step 7: Once the base is cool, lift it carefully in its paper and place it top-side down on a flat plate and peel off the paper (see image 3).

Step 8: Whip the double cream until thick but soft and spread delicately over the top of the meringue (see image 4). With a teaspoon, push the cocoa through a fine sieve or tea strainer to decorate the top, cappuccino-style.

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