New Year’s Pavlova

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On New Year’s Eve, I cooked for some friends and realized that dessert needed to be on the lighter end of things, because who wants to go out to New Year’s parties feeling all weighed down with chocolate and butter, etc. etc.? That’s how I came up with Pavlova, something that I’d only really made once before (actually twice) but never served to guests because it always seemed so delicate and ephemeral and kind of risky. But a risky dessert on New Year’s Eve is a good way to kick off the new year: taking chances, living on the edge, whipping egg whites. So I got to work.

“Work,” actually,” is the wrong term. Making Pavlova is a cinch. You just whip egg whites in your KitchenAid–Deb’s recipe gives a good guide–adding sugar and vinegar, though I also added vanilla. You mound the pavlova on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment, a 7-inch circle drawn in pencil on the other side of the paper to give you a guideline. Then you bake at 250 for an hour until it’s crisp on the outside, slightly browned, and marshmallowy in the interior. You let it finish cooling in the oven after you turn it off.

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Here’s where things got tricky: I tried to lift the cooled Pavlova on to a cake stand and it cracked every which way. So I left it on the cookie sheet, covered it with a little plastic, and set it aside until dessert. After serving up a Paleron de Beouf au Vin Rouge from Daniel Boulud’s Braising book (along with some mashed potatoes and green beans…ok, I’ll show you):

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To these eager eaters:

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I poured some heavy cream into the stand mixer, added a pinch of sugar and vanilla, and whipped until soft peaks formed. Then I spooned that on top of the pavlova, which I kept on the parchment, lifting everything on to the cake stand. Then I topped with a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries that I smashed up a bit with some sugar. Voila:

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What can I say? The risk paid off. This was the perfect light dessert; crispy and marshmallowy on the bottom, creamy in the middle, and tart at the top. Plus, not only easy to make, but kind of cheap (berries notwithstanding). 2015 will be the Year of Pavlova-For-Dessert-At-Dinner Parties.

Hope you had a swell New Year’s too.

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