It seems a bit out of character for me to not have complained about the weather yet, so I thought it fitting to say Sheesh! It's cold! We've already had our first snow (not that it lasted) and I have to remember that a corduroy jacket and summery scarf just isn't going to do the job when I go out. Kids don't seem to notice the cold, no matter what they are wearing, but on those long walks and chilly afternoons at the park, I'm reaching for my long underwear. Let It Snow!
What does that have to do with pavlova? Absolutely nothing, but then neither does this little tidbit..
We sold our house!
It looks like we will actually be moved and settled in a new place by Christmas. Joy to the World!
Not quite as joyful is the prospect of packing up this place; can someone please tell me how we managed to accumulate SO much stuff over the past few years?
Thankfully, Megan over at Simple Kids has inspired me to tackle the children's belongings step-by-step with her great series Winterize Within. Hey! Maybe I could wrap a bunch of stuff up and give it away as Christmas gifts. Just a thought.
On to the sweet stuff...
This cranberry- vanilla pavlova was one of my contributions to a lavish Thanksgiving dinner pot-luck we enjoyed with friends a few weekends ago. As I was looking over the photos I had managed to snap despite the chaos of about 25 bodies clamoring for dessert and Noah's meltdown because he WANTED THE BLUE PLATE, I realized this would make a pretty fitting Christmas dessert as well.
It's red & white, with billowing whipped cream that is reminiscent of snow, and cheery cranberries all over. Visually, it scores very high on the festive chart . Defiantly a recipe not limited to just Thanksgiving. Or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to make it again. It was GOOD!
At the aforementioned diner party, Danny and I had conveniently seated ourselves within arms reach of the desserts. After one slice each of the decadent and very addicting cranberry pavlova, a very interesting conversation occurred over the consumption of the rest of the dessert.
"It's best eaten the day it is made"
"Yeah, we better enjoy another slice or two. You know, to help contribute to the consumption"
"I don't want to take any home."
"No way. It doesn't travel well. Here, just slide another sliver over."
"Serve me some too, it's so light and airy anyway."
"I know, and cranberries are like superfoods, right?"
"Right. Well, there's a bit left, but, you know, it goes all soggy in the fridge if you store it overnight."
"Eww. We wouldn't want that."
and so on and so forth, until, well, I'm a bit embarrassed to disclose what happened after that. You'll just have to make it for yourself and see how fast it disappears.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2007
FOR THE TOPPING
3 1/3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
FOR THE PAVLOVA
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Make the topping:
Combine cranberries, granulated sugar, and water in a saucepan. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into pan, and toss in pod. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until cranberries are soft but have not burst, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Remove vanilla bean. Topping can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
2. Make the pavlova:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an overturned bowl or a cake pan as a guide, trace a 10-inch circle onto parchment. Turn parchment over, marked side down.
3. Beat egg whites, cornstarch, salt, and vinegar with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add superfine sugar. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and gradually add confectioners' sugar. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until very stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
4. Using a rubber spatula or a large spoon, spread meringue into marked 10-inch circle on prepared baking sheet, forming a well in center.
5. Bake until outside is firm and bottom lifts easily off parchment, about 2 hours. (The inside should still be marshmallow soft.) Turn off oven and allow pavlova to remain inside until the oven cools. When cool, carefully remove from parchment. (Pavlova can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
6. Before serving, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Place meringue on a platter or cake stand. Spread cream in center of meringue. Spoon topping over cream.