When I have people over for dinner I tend to make a pavlova. It’s easy and everyone loves it. Even friends who profess not to like pavlova end up loving it. I recently had a dinner party and I made a chocolate cake and a pavlova for pudding. One of my friends said they wouldn’t have the pavlova as they didn’t like it. By the end of the night, he had more pavlova than everyone else and didn’t even touch the chocolate cake!

So when I was planning a party recently, I knew I wanted all the food to be in bite size pieces. Let’s face it, pavlova can be a messy experience. So I decided to scale it down and make small meringue nests, topped with cream and a single raspberry. Then I thought it would be nice to make it just that little bit richer and more decadent so I decided to whip up some mascarpone and then add a few tablespoons of condensed milk. Wow, that tasted good. I could have just eaten the bowl of that on my own. You can add as much or as little as you want. I have quite a sweet tooth so I added quite a bit. And I must say, even my friends who don’t have such a sweet tooth really liked this mix.

To add a bit of texture, I crushed some pistachios in the food processor and sprinkled them on top of the mascarpone mix before adding a raspberry.

It’s a bit difficult to give exact measurements as I was making loads of these and a pavlova at the same time so I was dividing my mixture up. These are some rough instructions…

For the meringue nests:
4 free-range egg whites
250g caster sugar
½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp malt vinegar

For the topping:
500g mascarpone
Condensed milk – you can choose how much you want to add depending on how sweet your tooth is!
Handful of natural pistachios (not salted), crushed. Not too fine though, leave some bigger pieces for texture.
Punnet of raspberries.

Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Then whisk in the sugar, one tablespoonful at a time, until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Add the cornflour and vinegar to the egg white and fold in lightly with a metal spoon. It should look lovely and silky.

Half fill a piping bag with the mixture and using a star shaped nozzle, pipe the mix into the desired size.

With a wet teaspoon, press down in the middle to form a nest shape.

I decided that I want to make some with a swirl effect so stirred in some red food colouring.

Unfortunately this didn’t quite work out as planned. Instead the mix came out pink. But it didn’t matter, they actually looked really nice.

Place into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 120C/250F/Gas Mark ½. Cook for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave in the oven while it cools completely. I usually do this at night and leave overnight.

Remove the meringues from the oven and carefully remove the baking parchment.

Meringues will keep like this for a few days in an airtight container if you’re making them in advance for a party. When you are ready to assemble, beat the mascarpone until smooth and creamy then add the desired amount of condensed milk. Start off with a couple of tablespoons and taste. If you want it sweeter, just add more until its right for you.

Take a teaspoon and spoon the mix onto the meringue nests. Take care as they’re very delicate and could easily break. Top with some crushed pistachios then add a raspberry to the top.

These are really delicious. When I was planning them I thought they would taste good…how could they not? It’s sugar, mascarpone and condensed milk! But they actually tasted better than I expected. The pistachio added a different texture and taste and the tartness of the raspberry cut through the sweetness of the mascarpone mix and the meringue. I loved them and will definitely be making them again.

You can adapt this recipe however you want. You can use whipped cream if you prefer, you could drizzle some raspberry sauce over the top, you could use different berries or fruit. You can pretty much do anything.

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