Pavlova - although probably originating in New Zealand - is the quintessential Australian family dessert. For every barbecue or event where everyone "brings a plate", someone will bring a pav. They always go faster than the cheesecake.
At its best, a pavlova is crisp on the outside, squidgy and marshmallowy inside. The cream is whipped into billowy softclouds and is unsweetened. The fruit is quite tart, but perfectly ripe, fresh and abundantly applied. At worst, the cream will be sweet and squirted from a can, the meringue will taste of cornflour and the fruit will be syrupy tinned peach segments.
I don't make a good pavlova. For some reason I have a lot of trouble getting the eggwhites to just the right stage before I add my sugar, I add my sugar at the wrong speed and it all ends up going wrong.
For people like me, there is the gloriously tacky and retro plastic egg, the Pavlova Magic. You take the sachet of powdered eggwhite and gelatine out of the egg, fill the base of the egg with water, the top of the egg with caster sugar and away you go. Perfect. And no need to figure out what to do with all the eggyolks.
The down-side to the Pavlova Magic is that it really doesn't taste of anything but sugar. So for this one, I added a good splash of vanilla at the water stage, and folded 60g chopped white chocolate into the meringue just before baking.
On top of the cream I used raspberries and pomegranate seeds, with shavings of white chocolate.
Other brilliant pavlova topping combinations: passionfruit, strawberry and kiwifruit (a real classic); sliced white peaches with raspberries; chunks of mango, pineapple and passionfruit. It's not an excuse to serve the leftover fruitsalad. It deserves careful construction.
If you do need to transport one to someone else's house, it's usually easier to take the elements separately and assemble them on the spot, but otherwise put it in a big cake carrier, don't cover it in cling film, because the meringue will sweat and everything will sink and wilt