Pavlova with peaches, berries, pecans and white chocolate

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A proper pavlova is a beautiful thing, and this foolproof recipe from Steve Horrell ensures the meringues come out crispy, sticky, chewy and sweet every time. Topped with fresh fruit and caramelised peaches cooked on a 'chappa' (a sort of flat tray suspended above coals), this is an informal, delicious dessert. If peaches and berries aren't in season, try swapping them for apples, pears, redcurrants, pomegranates or oranges – basically, whatever you fancy!

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First published in 2021




Candied pecans

  • 50g of pecan nuts
  • 100g of water
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 50ml of water
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 125g of egg white, (from approx. 3-4 large eggs)
  • 250g of caster sugar
  • 10g of cornflour
  • 3 peaches, ripe, halved and stones removed
  • 100g of Demerara sugar
  • 1 handful of strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 250ml of double cream
  • 2 tbsp of runny honey

To serve


  • Stand mixer


Begin by making the candied pecans, as these can be done well in advance and kept in an airtight container. Place the pecans, water and sugar in a small pan – you want the nuts to be completely covered by the liquid, so depending on the size of your pan you may need to add more water (add the same amount of sugar for any extra water too). Gently bring to the boil, then once boiling, drain the nuts (you can keep the sugar syrup for other dishes if you wish)
Add a generous amount of vegetable oil to a pan – you want at least 2cm of oil to deep-fry the pecans in. Place over a medium-high heat and, once hot, fry the pecans for a few minutes until they darken in colour and crisp up. Drain and store in an airtight container until needed
For the meringue, preheat an oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into a pan with the hot water and cider vinegar (throw the scraped vanilla pod in there too). Gently heat either near the coals of the barbecue or over a low heat on the hob
Meanwhile, add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs until frothy, then gradually add the caster sugar and cornflour
Remove the vanilla-infused water from the heat and discard the pod. Gradually pour in the hot water while the whisk continues to run, then keep whisking until the mixture forms stiff peaks
Add a few blobs of meringue to a baking tray, then use this to glue down a piece of baking paper. Spoon the meringue onto the baking paper, either in 2 large mounds or 4 individual mounds depending on how you’d like to serve it. Use a spoon to create a rough nest and spike up the mixture
Transfer the meringues to the oven and bake for 1 hour, then allow to cool completely
While the meringue cooks and cools, gently melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once fully melted, pour the chocolate onto a sheet of baking paper and allow to cool and set in the fridge
Next, prepare the peaches. If you’re using a barbecue, light it and place a chappa or flat metal tray above the coals. If you’re not using a barbecue, heat a heavy, flat frying pan over a medium-high heat. Coat the flat side of each peach half in the demerara sugar, then place them cut-side down on the hot chappa or panw step>
Cook the peaches until the sugar melts and begins to caramelise and brown. At this point, flip them over and either move the coals out from under them or turn the heat down under the pan. Leave them to gently continue cooking until soft
When the peaches are nearly ready, add the halved strawberries to the chappa or pan and cook for 5 minutes, just to soften them up slightly
Add the double cream and honey to the bowl of the stand mixer and whisk until soft-whipped
Once the meringues have cooled, it’s time to build the pavlova. Place the meringues on a plate (or plates) – they will be quite sticky and chewy, but this is fine. Spread the whipped cream over the top, then add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. Top with the peaches and strawberries with a few edible flowers scattered throughout, then finish with raspberries, candied pecans and shards of the set white chocolate. Garnish with mint and serve

Steve Horrell is the executive chef at Roth Bar & Grill in Somerset.

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