This recipe was born out of a desire to turn a traditional into a holiday speciality. And, honestly, I like it better this way (and not just because I designed the recipe!). Pavlova is very much a traditionally sweet dessert, with the fluffy meringues, sweet cream, and sugary berry compotes. Being more of an appreciator of the tart, or the sweet balanced with not so saccharine (not to get you confused though, I am definitely a dessert person!), this pairing brings just the right amount of tart to break the sweetness of the pavlova and leave you with the perfect holiday dessert. Legitimately perfect. :))
As always, I love to hear from readers who follow my recipes! :D
Holiday Pavlova: Meringues layered with Nutmeg Whipped Cream and Cranberry Compote
Meringue: 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large Safest Choice egg whites at room temperature, a pinch of salt
Filling: Sixteen ounces of cranberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar or to taste, 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons nutmeg
Note: I used Safest Choice eggs to make this dessert. I’ve just recently discovered them and can’t help but think that they accomplish some pretty cool things! They are specially treated with a new technology to eliminate any risk of salmonella… so you can consume them raw without worrying at all! Woo! :D (I made a delicious buttermilk poppyseed cake with them too!)
To make the meringues:
Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
In a large bowl whip ROOM TEMPERATURE egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Start on low and increase incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks or trails start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform. This should take approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added slowly pour in the vanilla. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted (this should take approximately 4 to 5 minutes).
Spoon the meringue into five to six inch round piles (you can draw them out on the parchment paper ahead of time to keep things uniform) that are two inches thick on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave plenty of room for the meringues to expand. You can try to form some peaks and dents to make your meringue as pretty as possible. Some people like to make slight indentations in the middle of their meringues so that they sort of act as bowls for the filling later on.
Place the baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees and turn pan around.
Gently lift from the finished meringues from the baking sheet and cool them on a wire rack. They will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
To make the filling:
Sauté the cranberries and sugar on the stovetop on low, stirring regularly. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, reducing temperature as needed, until some of the cranberries have popped and mixed with the melted sugar to make a sort of jam. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Whip the heavy whipping cream, two tablespoons of granulated sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla and two teaspoons of nutmeg together until the whipped cream forms peaks when the hand mixer is lifted up.
Place meringue on serving plate. Layer on some whipped cream followed by some of the cranberry compote. Follow with another meringue, more whipped cream, and more berries. Continue until all layers of the meringue have been incorporated (alternately, you could make individual pavlovas… but they’re not as much a visual treat…). Finish with whipped cream and then berry compote on top. Serve immediately after assembly (so if you’re bringing it somewhere, bring it in pieces and assemble there.)
Over all, once you get the hang of the meringues (and, honestly, even if you don’t) this dessert is sure to be a hit anywhere you go. :)