For the Mini Pavlovas - you say that the cream and fruit should be added just before serving but I don't want to do this when guests are here. Realistically can I prepare them 4 hours in advance? I could put the fruit on last minute but want to get the cream piped in advance. Thanks.
Nigella's Mini Pavlovas (from HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS) are individual meringues topped with whipped cream and fruit. We prefer to top meringues with cream and fruit just before serving as meringues absorb moisture from the cream (sugar is hygroscopic, so attracts moisture very easily) and soften very quickly once the cream has been added. Also, the meringues and cream would need to be refrigerated and the moist air in a fridge can also contribute to the meringues becoming soft.
We would suggest part whipping the cream and leaving it in the fridge until needed to save some time. Whipped double cream will thicken more as it stands and also if it is piped, so whip the cream until it is just thickening, then cover and refrigerate. Give the cream one or two extra turns with a manual whisk or fork just before using to get to the correct consistency. If it is completely impossible to assemble the Mini Pavlovas just before serving then add softly whipped cream no more than 1 hour ahead. Refrigerate the pavlovas until needed.