The plums are cooked for a short time to keep their shape. But they could also be cooked for much longer if you prefer to make more of a compôte for this spicy late summer dessert.
For the pavlova
- 5 free-range egg whites
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 250g/9oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
For the cherries
- 100g/3½oz dried cherries
- 100ml/3½fl oz kirsch
For the spiced plums
- 1 orange, juice only
- 75g/2¾oz light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- few cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- few allspice berries, lightly crushed
- 1 piece pared orange zest
- 8 ripe plums, stoned and quartered
- 300ml/10fl oz double or whipping cream, whipped
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
- To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2. Draw a circle of around 23cm/9in diameter on a sheet of baking parchment and then use the sheet to line a baking tray.
- Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk, until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
- Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, then start adding this gradually to the eggs, a tablespoon at a time to start with, and then slightly more, beating between each addition, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Sprinkle over the vinegar and fold in.
- Use a few blobs of the meringue to secure the baking parchment to the baking tray, then pile the rest into the marked circle. Make a slight indentation in the middle and allow the meringue to come to peaks around the side.
- Bake in the oven for around an hour and 15 minutes, to an hour and a half. The meringue should be crisp around the sides but with some give in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue to cool completely.
- To make the filling, put the dried cherries in a small saucepan with the kirsch. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer until the cherries are soft and plump and most of the kirsch has been absorbed.
- To make the spiced plums, orange juice, sugar, spices, and orange zest into a saucepan. Stir on the low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Add the plums and poach in the liquid for a few minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.
- Remove the plums from the liquid, peeling off the skins as you go – they should just fall off. Strain the cooking liquid.
- To assemble, add the icing sugar and cinnamon (if using) to the whipped cream, then stir a couple of tablespoons of the plum liquid with the cherries. Put the cream over the meringue base, top with the plums, and drizzle over any remaining liquid.