What It Is and Why You Need One.
don't know about you, but December has already knocked me sideways.
And it's only the 8th.
Thanksgiving comes and goes, like the opening ceremony for the holidays. Before you can catch your breath and look around, it seems everyone has hit the ground running in the race to be the most festive. The number of parties, events, and traditions that get crammed into one month is almost comical.
You may be thinking, "Okay, but, are you the Grinch?", rest assured that my only connection to he, or Ebenezer Scrooge, is that I'm partially named after Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' ghosts. To me, this mad dash is so worth the temporary holiday time warp, for the guaranteed jubilance, but even more so for the guaranteed food. Everywhere you go, people are practically throwing food at you- in the good non-cafeteria way. And what can you do?? It's rude not to accept, right? Cue: eggnog, butter-laden everything, roast beasts (maybe that was just in Whoville?), and not to mention it's a hot season to be a grocery store sample enthusiast.
With all this hustle and bustle, it's almost inevitable you'll be asked/obligated/convinced to take part in at least one festive, edible offering…
…But, it's the fifteenth time this season, for the fifteenth party, and you're just like *shrug*- is this sleeve of crackers enough? We could go on auto-pilot, or we could just go for it. Seeing as how we only have a few weeks left of this gluttonous season before the world will be convincing us all to diet, I say we go for it.
We'll need something impressive, but easy. Different, yet still approachable. Customizable and dare I say impressive?
Pavlova is having a moment right now. A very well deserved moment. Though it's not a household name, pavlova is a dessert with origins in New Zealand, where it is both popular and revered, like its namesake, the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Story has it that a chef created this meringue-based dessert with the famous dancer's tutu in mind. Pavs, as they're sometimes called, do a dance of their own, and are somehow airy like a meringue, fluffy like a marshmallow, and crunchy like a cookie. Traditionally topped with a whipped cream-like element, perhaps the most recognizable part of a pavlova is the layer of fruit that serves as the crown jewel. Though that traditionally means berries and kiwi, the beauty of this dessert is the absolute adaptability.
Heck! I've even scooped ice cream onto one before.
Individual pavs also serve as an impressive
vessel, especially if you employ the
Today, this is what we're bringing to the table.
This pavlova is a representation of fall's transition into winter and everything this season still has to offer. A grown-up deviation of Cool-Whip, better known as stabilized whipped cream, is spread thick on the meringue base to help secure fresh persimmons, figs, candied orange peel, and roasted pepitas.
There's nothing better than cracking into a fresh pavlova, but I would debate that a pavlova that has aged overnight in the fridge is just as delicious, as the cream melts into the crispy shell, creating a sweet, soft interior. The only rule in creating your perfect, custom pav, is that you make something you're excited about. The combinations are endless.
Whether you're going to an ugly sweater party, or have been convinced to leave your Netflix hibernation for another get together, you're sure to please with a pavlova. Just be ready to answer, "You brought a what?" a few times.
BASIC PAVLOVA RECIPE
4 Egg Whites
1 ¼ c. (250g) Granulated Sugar
1 tsp White Wine Vinegar or Lemon Juice
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Vanilla or Almond Extract
1) Heat oven to 300° F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a pencil, trace something round, like a large dinner plate, onto the parchment. Once finished, flip the paper over so that the pencil marks are face down on the pan.
2) In a clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, add your egg whites and whisk on medium-high until soft peaks form. Soft peaks are formed when you hold your whisk attachment, or beaters, upside down and the whites are foamy and just starting to hold.
3) With the mixer, or hand mixer, back on medium-high, start gradually adding the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time. Keep adding the sugar and you will start to see the meringue form.
4) Once you’ve gradually added all the sugar, turn your mixer up high and whip until the egg whites and sugar form glossy, firm peaks. Firm peaks are formed when you turn your whisk upside down and the peaks hold, but the tip of the meringue folds down on itself.
5) Gently fold in the vinegar, cornstarch, and extract until they are evenly distributed.
6) Transfer the mixture into the center of the traced circle on the sheet tray. Using a spatula, or a spoon, evenly spread the meringue into a circle, making sure to create a bit of a pocket in the center for your cream and fruit to fill in.
7) Bake 1 hour in the oven at 300° F. After the first hour, turn off the oven, but leave the pavlova inside with the door closed for 1 more hour to finish baking and to let cool.
8) Garnish and serve immediately, or keep wrapped at room temperature for up to one day before garnishing.
STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM RECIPE
4 oz. Cream Cheese, at room temperature.
½ c. Confectioners’ Sugar
8 oz. Heavy Cream
1) In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until creamy. Transfer to a medium sized bowl.
2) In the same mixing bowl, add the heavy cream. Whip until soft peaks form. Add half the cream cheese mixture and beat together with the whipped cream. Add the other half and let mix until stiff peaks and a cohesive mixture forms.
3) Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
SWEET ROASTED PEPITAS
1 ½ c. Pepitas, Unsalted
2 Tbl. Maple Syrup or Honey
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Salt
1) Preheat oven to 400° F and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
2) Toss all ingredients in a bowl until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer onto tray.
3) Roast for 4 minutes, stir, and return to the oven for 2 more minutes until all the syrup is absorbed and the seeds are fragrant. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.