Peach pavlova trifle with brandy custard

Trifles are things of beauty, as are pavlovas, so why not blend the two? Here, mini pavs are the crowning glory of a summery peach trifle – and it’s an excellent do-ahead dessert.


50 ml brandy
16 savoiardi biscuits
300 ml pouring cream
Sliced peaches and crumbled freeze-dried raspberries (optional), to serve

Mini pavlovas
150 gm (about 4) eggwhites
220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour

Peach jelly
750 ml rosé
440 gm (2 cups) caster sugar
Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
6 peaches, bases scored
6 titanium-stength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes

Brandy custard
300 ml pouring cream
300 ml milk
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
1½ tbsp plain flour
110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar
50 ml brandy, or to taste


  1. For mini pavlovas, preheat oven to 150°C. Line several oven trays with baking paper. Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer to soft peaks (4-5 minutes), then, with motor running, gradually add sugar and whisk until firm and glossy (2-3 minutes). Whisk in vinegar, then fold in cornflour. Spoon into rough quenelles with 2 dessertspoons onto trays. Place in oven, reduce to 120°C, and bake until crisp but not coloured (1-1¼ hours). Turn off heat and cool completely in oven with door closed (3-4 hours). Meringues will keep in an airtight container for a day.
  2. For peach jelly, stir rosé, sugar, orange and lemon juice and 1 litre water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add peaches, bring to a simmer, then weight with a plate to submerge. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until peaches are just tender (10-15 minutes). Cool in syrup. Strain 1 litre syrup into a clean saucepan. Peel peaches, cut into wedges, return to remaining syrup and refrigerate until needed. Bring peach syrup in saucepan to a simmer, squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to pan and stir to dissolve. Cool, then pour into a 2.5-litre trifle bowl and refrigerate until set (4-5 hours).
  3. Meanwhile, for brandy custard, place cream, milk and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk yolks, flour and sugar in a heatproof bowl, strain in cream mixture and whisk to combine. Return to pan and whisk over low heat until thick (4-5 minutes). Whisk in brandy, transfer to a container, cover surface directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Custard will keep in an airtight container for 3 days.
  4. Pour 250ml peach syrup into a bowl and mix in brandy. Add savoiardi and leave until liquid is absorbed (2 minutes). Arrange in a single layer on peach jelly, top with a layer of poached peach, pour custard on top, top with another layer of savoiardi and another layer of peaches. Cover and refrigerate until required (up to 2 days).
  5. To serve, whisk cream to soft peaks, spread onto trifle and top with mini pavlovas. Arrange fresh peach wedges on top and scatter with freeze-dried raspberries.

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