Roasted Plum Pavlova with Tarragon

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The book for this month’s Borough Market Cookbook Club is in fact the Borough Market Cookbook. Hot off the press, it was only published earlier this month. It is divided according to season, so as soon as it arrived, I dived straight into autumn.

After considering Autumn panzanella, Watercress, russet apple and cobnut salad, Beetroot dahl, I turned to the page with Roast plum pavlova with tarragon and the deliberation was over. It was the tarragon that did it; I love desserts with herbs and was curious to see how the tarragon and plum worked together. After I had roasted the plums with the tarragon, I tasted some of the syrup, it was divine. 

The plums and tarragon on their own would be wonderful with Greek yoghurt or with porridge so I was really glad I had roasted extra.

After I had assembled the two smaller pavlovas, I was thrilled with how they looked. This is a real show stopper and would wow anyone. Hope the Cookbook Club crowd like it!

I’m now writing this a few days later and am happy to report they loved it.

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the roast plums

6 sprigs tarragon

150 ml water

1kg plums, halved and de-stoned

40g golden caster sugar

For the meringue

5 large egg whites (about 175g)

350g caster sugar (twice the weight of the egg whites)

70g toasted flaked almonds

To finish

600 ml double cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Leaves picked from 2 sprigs of tarragon

15g toasted flaked almonds

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200ﹾC fan/220ﹾC/gas mark 7.
  • Place the tarragon sprigs in a roasting dish with 150 ml water. Lay the plums over these, cut size up, ideally in one layer. Sprinkle the sugar onto the plums, macerate for 15 minutes, then bake for 20-30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then transfer the plums, juices and tarragon into a smaller container and refrigerate until needed.
  • Weigh the egg whites. Weigh double the amount of sugar. Set the oven to 130ﹾC fan/150ﹾC/gas mark 2 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  • Add the egg whites to a stand mixer and whisk at a medium speed until they form stiff peaks. Increase the speed and slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue whisking for 9 minutes until the mixture is glossy and has no hint of sugar crystals.
  • Scatter with half the almonds. Use a large metal spoon to carefully but confidently ripple through the nuts in two or three swoops. Spoon the mixture onto the lined baking sheet creating a circle of 26-28 cm in diameter, with high, wavy sides and an indent for the cream and fruit in the middle. Place in the centre of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 110ﹾC fan/ 130ﹾC/gas mark ½ and bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven off and leave for 1 hour more. Remove the meringue from the oven and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top.
  • Whip the cream and vanilla extract in a bowl until they reach a loose stage, then spoon on top of the meringue. Arrange the plums and juices over the cream, then scatter with tarragon leaves and the flaked almonds.

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Plum and Almond Friands

 

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Friands are small French cakes which apparently are hugely popular in Australia. I get really excited when I make things which are so easy, look really impressive and taste delicious. I can’t wait to tell everyone! These cakes are divine and so quick to make, they can be on the table within the hour and eaten even faster! I’m really trying hard not to be greedy, but with such temptation, it’s very difficult! I think the plum on the top of the cake makes a great transition into autumn. It has a lovely tang in contrast to the sweetness of the cake. I also think these would make a great present, I mean who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a box of these?

Ingredients

(From: Waitrose Summer Harvest 2015)

Makes 12

125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

50g plain flour

115g icing sugar

75g ground almonds

4 medium egg whites

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3 large plums, stoned and cut into thick wedges

Icing sugar for dusting

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas Mark 6.
  • Grease a 12-hole muffin tin with a little butter, then line the bases with circles of baking parchment.
  • Melt the butter.
  • Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and add the ground almonds. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir the almond extract and melted butter into the flour mixture and mix to combine.
  • Using a large metal spoon, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the flour and butter mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remainder until it is just combined.
  • Divide the mixture into the holes in the tins. Arrange the plums on the top and bake for 15-18 minutes. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve lightly dusted with icing sugar.

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