Black Forest Meringue Pavlova

AGA Demonstrator Naomi Hansell's Black Forest Meringue Pavlova is easy to make and impressive to serve...

Black Forest Meringue Pavlova

8 egg whites

400g caster sugar

2 tsp cocoa powder and a little more for dusting

600ml whipping or double cream or 600g creme fraiche

A tin of black cherries in juice or syrup

50g dark chocolate, grated or dark chocolate curls

Chocolate syrup or sauce for drizzling (optional)

A large baking tray (the AGA cold plain shelf is good for this), even better if you have 2.

A serving platter - the small Portmeririon for AGA Baking Trays are perfect

1. Make 2 meringue rectangles, slightly smaller than the size of your serving plate. Line your baking trays with lightly greased foil, greaseproof paper or Bake-o-Glide.

2. Whisk the eggs whites in a very clean bowl until quite stiff then gradually add the sugar one teaspoon at a time and whisk until glossy and quite stiff. Place spoonfuls on to the Bake-o-Glide or foil, spreading into rectangles with a slight dip in the middle. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the edges of the meringue and using a cocktail stick, swirl it into the meringue, using a figure of eight motion all the way round the edge.

3. Bake either in the AGA warming oven for a 2-3 hours, or in the AGA simmering oven for an hour. For a fan oven, cook at 100/80C for an hour. The meringues are cooked when they lift easily off the Bake-o-Glide. Cool and store in an airtight container until needed.

4. Make the boozy black cherries by straining out the cherries from the tin. Put the juices into the small pan with the brandy and heat on the boiling plate for 3 minutes until bubbling. Continue to heat until the juices turn syrupy then cool. Add the cherries and set aside. They can be chilled in the fridge for several days until needed.

5. To assemble, whip the cream. Put one meringue layer on to a serving dish and top with half the cream, spreading out almost to the edges. Spoon over half the cherries and some of the syrupy juices. Carefully place the second meringue on top, repeat with the rest of the cream, cherries and finish with the grated or chocolate curls and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Here’s the really clever bit - the whole finished dish can be frozen (including the Portmerion for AGA Baking Tray) until needed, simply defrost for 4 hours in the fridge or 1 at room temperature.