New Year’s Eve afternoon finds me writing from home near the patio door which is framed by a coating of snow.
Across the street, the trees at the northern end of Lake Carasaljo in Lakewood are frosted white. Only an occasional car skimming along South Lake Drive breaks the peace of the day.
On this Seventh Day of Christmas, it would be fantastic to see seven swans a swimming glide by, but with far more geese than swans at home on Lake Carasaljo, that’s not likely to happen.
Still, a setting like this on the last day of the year brings swans to mind. From there, its just a simple jete to Pavlovas – the meringue-based dessert named for the iconic Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. She was famed in days of yore for dancing the lead in “Swan Lake” and creating a renowned dance composition called “The Dying Swan” that became her trademark.
This dainty dessert which recalls her fluffy costumes would bring a difficult year to a close on a sweet note.
The dessert, invented either in Australia or New Zealand according to devotees who have been disputing its country of origin since the 1920s, has a reputation for being diccult to prepare.
This version, adapted from several on the internet, is relatively simple. The key to its success is leaving it in the oven so that the meringue will set as the oven cools.
New Years Eve Pavlovas
Ingredients: 6 egg whites; 1 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 tsp cream of tartar; 1 tsp corn starch; 1 tblsp white vinegar; 1 tblsp vanilla; 1 pint strawberries; confectioners sugar to taste; 1 cup whipped cream
preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Beat egg whites till soft peaks form and add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time until the sugar is completely beaten in and dissolved. Mix the corn starch and cream of tartar together and fold into the whites along with the vinegar and the vanilla. Mound the mixture on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Make an impression in the center of the meringue which will later hold the berries.
Place the tray in the oven and lower the temperature to 200 degrees. Cook for 1 3/4 hours then turn off the oven, leaving the door closed until the oven has cooled.
Place the Pavlova shell on a large serving dish. In a separate bowl, toss the washed and hulled strawberries with confectioners sugar to taste. Cover the top of the Pavlova with whipped cream. Just before serving, pour the berries over the fluffy mound.