"It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating," said the Queen presently.
"What would you like best to eat?"
"Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty," said Edmund.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis, Chapter Four
I agree with Edmund - Turkish Delight is a wonderful thing. I've always liked to think that I would have more sense than to be tempted by a box of sweets proffered by a stranger (especially one travelling through the snow in a sleigh), but I'm not sure this is actually the case. Especially if it was a box of Turkish Delight on offer.
Despite the ubiquitous nature of the rosewater and pistachio combination in baking, my humble opinion is that there's always room for more. And this one looks a treat - the snowy white meringue and mountain of whipped cream contrast beautifully with the blood red of the pomegranate, encapsulating the strange wintry world of Narnia and the dangerously magnetic White Witch. Edmund certainly wouldn't be able to turn it down.
Pomegranate and Turkish Delight Pavlova
NB. In order to have a perfect pavlova (crisp on the outside and marshmallow-like in the centre) you need to start this dish a day before you intend to eat it, and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool overnight. The 'undressed' pavlova can also be kept in an airtight container for up to five days.
8 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
500ml double cream
150g unsalted pistachio nuts
Electric whisk (or a hand held whisk and substantial upper arm muscles)
Baking tray and baking paper
Food processor or large knife and chopping board
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking tray with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on the paper.
2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, a tablespoon full at a time; take your time, the egg whites need to be really shiny and hold stiff peaks. Very gently fold in the sifted cornflour and the rosewater. Use the spatula to arrange the meringue on the baking sheet, trying to create a cake shape (with a flattened top and smooth sides) that fits inside the 20cm circle. Put in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 150C. Cook for one and a half hours, and then leave in the oven to cool overnight (with the door slightly ajar if your oven is electric).
3. Cut one of the pomegranates in half and juice it - it's not as easy a juicing an orange, but the mechanics are basically the same. Strain the juice and put into a small saucepan with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the juice reduces to a syrup.
4. Reserve around ten pistachio nuts and blitz the rest to a fine powder in a food processor, or chop as finely as possible by hand. Whip the double cream until thick, but still light, and stir in the finely ground pistachio nuts. Peel the baking paper away from the pavlova, and invert on a serving plate. Spoon the cream over the top.
5. Halve the second pomegranate and access the seeds in a way that works for you - hit the skin with a wooden spoon and catch the seeds in a bowl or tea towel, or break the fruit up with your hands and separate seeds from pith. Scatter as many seeds over the cream as you fancy, and top with the remaining pistachio nuts (very roughly chopped) and a thick drizzle of the syrup.
Recipe adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by the incomparable Nigella Lawson.