Caramel Meringue

1/3 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup water
4 egg whites
3/4 cup castor sugar, extra

Combine the castor sugar and water in a small pan and cook, stirring, without boiling, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, uncovered for about 5 minutes or until the syrup is a clear caramel colour. Pour the caramel immediately into a 20cm ring pan. Holding a thick towel, tilt the pan to coat the side with the caramel. Beat the egg whites in a small bowl with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 a cup of the extra castor sugar, beating until dissolved between additions. Meanwhile add the remaining 1/4 cup of castor sugar to a preheated uncovered medium pan and cook over a high heat, tilting the pan, until the sugar is dissolved and golden brown. While the mixer is operating, drizzle the caramel into the meringue and beat for a further 5 minutes. Spread the meringue mixture over the caramel in the ring pan. Place the pan in a baking dish with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the pan. Bake in a slow oven (150C) for about 30 minutes or until browned and lightly firm. Remove the pan from the baking dish and allow to cool. Refrigerate in the pan for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight, before serving. (This is to dissolve the caramel in the pan and to turn it into a sauce).
To serve, invert the ring pan onto a serving plate with a rim and fill the centre with chopped pears. Serve with an allowable custard or cream if dairy is tolerated. - Emma

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