Charlotte Ree, the fab Australian, pun-dropping, sweets-maker, who I am proud to call an Instagram friend (I wish I could call her an IRL friend, but alas, we’ve never met) has written the most delightful little book about treats, called Just Desserts. Charlotte and I share a love of simple, no-fuss sweets, which basically means I was game to make a whole host of the recipes in her adorbs book. I was good to go with her shortbread caramel slice, topped with caramel popcorn no less — particularly when she described herself as a “salt fiend” in the headnote, which basically means we’re twins.
I was on board with making the raspberry friands because I was so down with the accompanying pun: “You don’t make friands with salad . . .” Truer words were never spoke, peeps. The Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns also sounded tasty — I don’t think I’ve ever had a hot cross bun with a chocolate component and I’m into it. And her apple crumble sounds great as well, though Charlotte puts oats in the crumble and I am anti-oat, so I might need to discuss that with her at some point.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake sounds delish, obvs. As does peach and raspberry tray cake, which sounds so much more exotic than peach and raspberry sheet cake, which is essentially what it is. But it was the layered berry pavlova that I actually took a stab at, really, for two reasons: One, I love pavlovas cause I dig a marshmallow-y centered anything, and if pavlova is done right, that is exactly the center it has. And two, I love whipped cream — combine it with a crispy edged, marshmallow-y centered pavlova (mildly flavored with lemon, in this instance) and I am all over it.
Because I am very cranberry-focused right about now, seeing as Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I just did a big cranberry story for a magazine that you can expect to hear lots about . . . in a year (sorry peeps, but it ain’t hitting newsstands til 2020) I decided to make a cranberry compote and fold that into my whipped cream, rather than making straight up whipped cream and topping my pavlova with berries, as Charlotte did. I love tart plus sweet and this version of Charlotte’s pavlova is all that and then some. The compote is super easy-peasy to assemble, and if you make extra you can call it cranberry “sauce” and serve it on Thanksgiving. Genius time-saver, am I right? And if you know what’s good for you, maybe you’ll consider making this ON Thanksgiving as a super nontraditional T’giving dessert in all the best ways.
Pavlova with Cranberry Whipped Cream for a Crowd
- Cranberry Compote:
- 2 cups cranberries fresh or frozen, or another berry of your choosing
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tsp pure vanilla extract divided
- For the pavlova:
- 12 large egg whites at room temperature
- 4 cups granulated sugar or super fine sugar, if you have it
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- For the cranberry whipped cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- recipe for cranberry compote x1
- Combine all the compote ingredients, save for the vanilla, in a small sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until the cranberries begin to burst. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the compote reduces and looks jammy, about 10 minutes. Add three teaspoons of the vanilla off the heat. Allow to cool to room temp before using.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace a circle on the underside of both sheets of paper so that your pavlova shells will be of equal size. (I trace around the outside of one of my 10 inch cake pans - or you could use a springform pan of a similar diameter).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. With the motor running, gradually add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, until stiff peaks form.
- Add the cornstarch, lemon zest and juice and fold using a rubber spatula.
- Divide the meringue mixture evenly between the two baking sheets, spreading it gently to fill the circles.
- Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- I found that my pavlovas were not completely done after an hour. Despite this fact, I pulled them out anyway. Once cooled, the crispy edges shattered and the bottom was a bit soft, but I have to say it was divine. If you do not want shattered edges, however, and if you want a sturdier bottom, I would still turn the oven off after an hour, but I would leave the pavlova in the oven to dry out and I would not remove them until they had reached room temp.
- For the cranberry whipped cream, whip the cream and remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla in the now-clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Once stiff peaks form, fold in the compote with a rubber spatula.
- Place one of the pavlova shells on a platter and top with half the cream. Place the second pavlova shell on top and repeat with the remaining cream. Serve immediately.