Our last guests of this year visited us for our first Thanksgiving. I have done a bit of research into traditional Thanksgiving dishes to give me some inspiration for what to cook on the big day. To be honest some of the dishes scared me a little bit – I’m not really convinced that mini-marshmallows should ever be part of a main course.
Pumpkin pie seems to be the traditional pudding for the day but I think a lighter after dinner treat will be more popular following a hearty roast dinner. I often feel the same way about Christmas Pudding after Christmas dinner.
I still wanted to make something appropriate to what is essentially a harvest festival though. I have many fond memories of spending early Autumn days blackberry picking with my Grandma and they lend wonderful colour to this dessert. The pears add a little bit of freshness and textural interest and also seem suitably Autumnal.
I love the idea of using brown sugar instead of white in Pavlova. It gives it a really lovely toffee flavour and an extra chewy texture which, again gives a really nice seasonal twist to this classic summer dessert.
2 egg whites
50g castor sugar
50g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbs port
2 tbs + 1 tsp sugar
300ml double cream (whipped)
Pre-heat the oven to 130°c.
Using a large, spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Mix together the two types of sugar and whisk them into the egg whites in three or four batches. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved into the egg and it is smooth, glossy and stiff. Sprinkle over the cornflour and whisk it in and then do the same with the vinegar.
Pipe or spoon the meringue into a large circle on a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper. Bake for two hours and then leave it on the tray to cool and dry completely.
Peel and core the pears and cut each into eight pieces. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar in the water and simmer the pears in it for about 5 minutes until they are tender. Drain and set aside.
Cook the blackberries in the port for a few minutes then remove from the pan and mix them with the pears. Reserve the juice and add 1 teaspoon of sugar to this cooking liquor and reduce it until it is thick and syrupy.
It’s best to wait to assemble everything until just before serving, or it can go a little soggy. Fill the meringue base with cream and pile on the fruit before drizzling on a little of the syrup. Elegant, and more importantly, yummy!