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Haunted Halloween pavlova - a spooky, impressive centerpiece with meringue ghosts and bones, Oreo soil and berry coulis blood; it is easier to make than you might think!

Halloween Haunted Pavlova

Servings 6 people

Ingredients

Meringue Ghosts and Bones:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 110 g (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • black gel food colouring

Pavlova:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 175 g (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Berry Coulis Blood:

  • 450 g (1 lb) mixed frozen berries
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 100 ml (scant 1/2 cup) water

To Finish:

  • 200 ml (1/2 + 1/3 cup) whipping cream
  • 1 heaped Tbsp icing (powdered) sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 5 chocolate stuffed Oreo cookies or Bourbon biscuits

Instructions

Meringue Ghosts and Bones:

  1. Preheat the oven to 100C/210F/gas mark 1/4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

  2. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large, spotlessly clean bowl and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time until it is all incorporated; continue to whisk until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
  3. Spoon the meringue into a disposable piping bag and snip off the corner. Use a little of the meringue to stick the baking parchment to the tray so that it is easier to pipe.
  4. Pipe bone shapes on one of the baking trays – start by piping a blob then work your way down to make the length, then finish with another blob on the opposite side. Repeat in reverse to make a crisscross, overlapping your meringue down the length of the bone to ensure there are no thin spots. It may take a few attempts to get the technique right.

  5. Pipe ghosts on the other tray - start with a fat blob and tail off towards the top.  Use a toothpick with a blob of meringue on the end to form arms.

  6. Bake for about 1 hour until firm and the meringues lift away from the parchment cleanly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

  7. Once cool, use a fine, food-only paintbrush to paint faces on the ghosts then store in an airtight container.

Pavlova:

  1. Turn the oven up to 150C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

  2. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large, spotlessly clean bowl and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time until it is all incorporated; continue to whisk until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
  3. Sift over the cornflour and drizzle over the vanilla extract; fold through carefully until well combined.

  4. Dollop about 2/3rds of the meringue onto the baking sheet and spread it out into an approx 20cm/8in circle. Use the rest of the meringue to build up the sides so that it is sort of bowl shaped.

  5. Place the meringue in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 100C/210F/gas mark 1/4. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes then turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in there until it has cooled completely (to help prevent it from cracking). Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Berry Coulis:

  1. Place all the mixed berry coulis ingredients into a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil over a gentle heat, stirring regularly. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Allow to cool, then transfer the coulis to a blender or use a hand blender to purée until completely smooth, pass the puree through a sieve, pushing through as much pulp as possible and discarding any seeds. Transfer to a jug, cover and keep refrigerated.

Assembly:

  1. When you are ready to serve the pavlova, carefully transfer it to a serving platter. Place the Oreos in a food processor and blitz until finely ground (or place in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin).

  2. Whisk the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla bean paste until soft peaks form. Top the middle of the pavlova with the whipped cream.

  3. Drizzle over some of the coulis, letting it drip down the sides gorily; if it is too thick then you can thin it with a little water. Serve the rest on the side in a jug for people to pour over.

  4. Scatter over the crushed Oreos then top with a pile of meringue bones and your favourite ghosts. Serve straight away and keep any leftovers refrigerated.