This holiday season, try making mini pavlova cakes with meringue, cream, and fresh cranberries. Shape them into wreaths for extra holiday cheer.
When it comes to sweet eats at the holidays, it's all about cookies. People go nuts for elaborately decorated sugar cookies. And each year, bloggers and magazines are dying to shove another newly derived cookie recipe down our throats, as if our holiday season just won’t be merry without them. Enough with the cookies! (Though I have an exception or two.)
try making meringue instead of cookies
Instead of cookies at the holidays, I’ve come to enjoy meringues. Making a meringue requires no skills other than that of your mixer's ability to beat egg whites and sugar. There is no rolling of dough or worrying that icing is too runny. You just need a clean bowl and egg whites that have no trace of yolk in them.
After whipping, you bake the egg white confections in the oven until they're dried and crisp. You can pipe the meringue out in an attractive style, or just spoon it onto baking sheets. It’s ridiculously simple, and a bag of flavored homemade meringues makes as nice of a gift as a box of cookies, with much less effort. Just add a little flavored extract to your egg whites.
pavlova, the meringue and cream cake
But if you really want to stand out from the cookie crowd at your next holiday gathering, try making the meringue dessert called pavlova. Pavlova has a marshmallowy meringue cake base that’s topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I find the lightness of the dish and the inclusion of fresh fruit refreshing at a time of year when most of us have traded in our servings of fruit for candy canes.
where did pavlova come from?
The history of pavlova is muddy, at best, as seems to be the case with many of the best dishes. Australia will tell you that they invented and named the dish when Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured the country in the 1920s. But so will New Zealand. While that debate continues today, historians will also tell you that meringue and cream-based desserts appeared in cookbooks in other parts of the world well before then. The origin could be German. Or perhaps North America.
Australia and New Zealand may have indeed started calling a meringue and cream cake pavlova after the ballerina, yet throughout the world, a number of other dishes were also named for her. Sounds like a case of Unsolved Mysteries to me. If nothing else, we know that pavlova, or pav, as they fondly refer to it, is perhaps most popular in Australia and New Zealand. They enjoy pav throughout the year, switching out the fresh fruit for whatever may be in season.
mini pavlova for the holidays
In my mini pavlova recipe, I've shaped the pavlova into small wreaths for the holiday season. I make a cranberry sauce (though if you already have some leftover sauce handy, you can just use that) and fold it into freshly whipped cream. Then I top it off with some sugared cranberries.
Don't let the number of steps here stop you from giving this a try. To make things easier, you can bake your meringue in advance, even overnight, and let it cool in the oven while you're doing something else.Print