Our second seasonal celebration recipe comes from BBCA Council member and Editor of The Bulletin - Sara Crew. This recipe is Sarah's adaptation of a recipe first published in De Standaard magazine. The Bulletin shares an office with the Flemish newspaper.
First make a meringue with 4 egg whites, 150g sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of cornflour or cream of tartar. Pile the whipped meringue (swirl the mixture into a messy pile, leaving a cavity for the cream filling) onto baking paper and cook for at least two hours at a low temperature (125-150°) and leave to dry in the oven for a couple of hours (or overnight).
In the meantime empty a bottle of rosé or white wine into large saucepan and add spices (cloves/star anis/cinnamon stick/ cardamom pods) as well as 20g of dried hibiscus flours (sourced from an organic supermarket). Add 75g of sugar and when dissolved, add peeled (you can leave the stalks on) and cored whole pears (smaller sized fruit are recommended). If necessary, add water to ensure the pears are completely submerged.
Although rosé or white wine is suggested, Sarah has considered using red wine instead and adding an extra dose of alcohol to the syrup to create a heady mulled wine mixture that would be very fitting for a winter festive pud!
Simmer until the pears are cooked, turning them from time to time so that they evenly colour. The pear poaching fills the kitchen with a lovely Christmassy fug! Remove from the heat, leave to cool and when cold, remove the pears and then reduce the syrup on high heat to make a sauce. You can add a little lemon juice when reducing the liquid.
Now assemble pavlova shortly before you want to serve it. Pile whipped cream (you can add some citrus zest for additional flavour) onto the meringue and top with the pears. Drizzle a little hibiscus syrup over the top and serve the remainder in a jug separately. For extra pizazz, you can sprinkle the dessert with dried hibiscus powder created by grinding some flowers.