Maggie Beer’s Pavlova with Dried Apricots in Verjuice Syrup
8 free range egg whites (from 59g eggs)
Pinch of salt
2 cups caster sugar
2 Tbspn cornflour
2 Tbspns Verjuice
1 cup (100g) flaked almonds
2 cups (500ml) thickened cream
2 cups (500ml crème fraiche
500g dried apricots
1 cup (250ml) Verjuice
1 cup (250ml) water
2 Tbspn honey
2 stems rosemary
Preheat the oven to 140C fan-forced (160C conventional). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the eggs whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a clean and dry electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form. With the motor running, gradually sprinkle in one third of the caster sugar at a time, whisking well until the mixture is stiff, glossing and tripled in volume; it should stand up and not move when the beaters are lifted and turned upside down. To check the sugar has dissolved, run the meringue between your fingers – if it feels at all grainy, continue to beat. Add the cornflour and Verjuice and beat until just combined.
Divide the meringue mixture in half. Place one half on each prepared tray and shape into a 30cm x 24cm x 2cm rectangle. Place in the oven immediately and bake for 40-45 minutes or until crisp on the outside and marshmallow-y inside.
Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to cool completely in the oven with the door ajar (wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon).
Once the meringues have been removed from the oven, preheat it to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). Roast the almonds on a baking tray for 4 minutes or until light golden, checking them frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside.
To make the apricot filling, place the dried apricots in a microwave-proof bowl, then pour over the Verjuice and water and cover with plastic film. Microwave on the defrost setting for 4 minutes to plump up and soften the apricots. (My microwave is 1100 watts; this time will vary if you have a lower wattage microwave.) Remove from the microwave, then strain and reserve the Verjuice mixture and set the apricots aside.
Place the reserved Verjuice mixture, honey & rosemary in a large heavy based frying pan over low-medium heat and gently simmer for 1-2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add the apricots and cook over low heat for 3 minutes or until the apricots are soft. Transfer the apricots to a roasting pan lined with baking paper or a bowl and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer the syrup for 2 minutes or until it stats to bubble and turn deep golden. Immediately remove from the heat and pour over the apricots, then set aside to cool.
Using hand held electric beaters, whisk the cream until medium-soft peaks form. Add the crème fraiche and whisk for another 40 seconds. Spoon half of the cream mixture on top of one layer of the meringue, then top with the second layer of the meringue. Spoon the remaining cream mixture on top. Arrange the cooled apricots and cooled almonds on top of the cream, then drizzle with apricot syrup.
Cut into slices and serve.