Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dalmatian Pavlova with Ginger Cherry Compote

So, Once Upon A Time is back. It's been back for over a month now and I've been loving it. The season returned with a few new characters: Ursula (who's a lot sexier and less terrifying than the Disney cartoon) and Cruella De Vil. I love Cruella. I mean, I hate her because she wants to murder adorable puppies, but I love her because she's a glam fashion-loving rich villain. Plus, girlfriend had some insane cheekbones and rocks a red lip better than Taylor Swift.

This dessert that I'm sharing today is totally inspired by Cruella. I'm calling it a dalmatian pavlova, because it's spotted with chocolate. (Yes, I could've called it a choco-chip pavlova but that's not v. creative, is it?) And, it's got fluffy whipped cream, which represents Cruella's love of fur. And finally, it's topped with a cherry compote, which is lovely and burgundy and a spot on match for Ms. De Vil's favorite lip color and evening gloves.
Ingredients [serves 6 to 8]:
pavlova
3 egg whites
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
pinch cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz. chopped chocolate (the darker, the better; I used 90% cacao)

ginger cherry compote
1 pint cherries (fresh & pitted or frozen & thawed)
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sugar

whipped cream
½ cup cream
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by chopping up a bunch of chocolate. Sure, you could use chips, but I love the variation in size and the shards that form when you hand chop chocolate. Also, I used an intensely dark chocolate; this 90% cocoa chocolate tastes like crap when it's eaten straight but it adds rich chocolate flavor when it's added to desserts.
To make the meringue, grab a clean bowl and crack in three egg whites. Reserve the egg yolks for a custard or ice cream.
Whip the egg whites until frothy and then add in cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and salt. Briefly whip to mix those ingredients into the egg whites.
Spoon a little sugar into the egg whites at a time and whip to combine. The slow adding of the sugar helps prevent the air bubbles from deflating out of the meringue and also helps the sugar dissolve.
Beat until the meringue is thick, sticky, and stiff peaks form.
Add the chopped chocolate to the meringue and fold to combine.
Plop the meringue onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and spread it out into a circle, approximately 9" in diameter.
I like to tap the spatula up and down to create little peaks. The peaks bake in the oven and get crispy and delicious.
Bake the pavlova in a 300F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the exterior is crisp but the interior is still soft and squidgy. The pavlova needs to be crisp enough to hold its shape but soft enough to have a chewy interior. Overcooked pavlova will be entirely too dry and crisp like a cracker. Undercooked pavlova will be runny and fall apart.
Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar and allow the pavlova to cool for about one hour.
Look at how gorgeous that is! And it looks all speckled like a dalmatian, right?
Now, let's talk about the delicious cherry compote that perfectly accompanies the dalmatian pavlova.
Add the cherries (pitted, of course), freshly grated ginger, and sugar to a saucepan and heat over low until the berries burst, release their juices, and bubble. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes and then let them cool.
The third element to this delicious pavlova is whipped cream. Just chuck some whipped cream, sugar, and vanilla extract into a bowl and whip to soft, fluffy peaks.
If you know you're going to eat the entire thing immediately, I would definitely suggest assembling the whole thing like a cake. However, if you're not hosting some giant sugar party, make individual portions. Once the pavlova is exposed to moisture, it will start to lose its delicious texture.

Check out those delicious spots of chocolate!
Grab a slice, plop on some whipped cream, and nestle on some cherries.
How gorgeous is that?
This is delicious. The pavlova is crisp and chewy and marshmallowy and the bits of chocolate melt as you chew and it's awesome. The fluffy whipped cream helps to offset the sugary sweetness and the cherries are bright and juicy and the ginger is subtle but incredible. It's an all around amazing dessert.
Here's the recipe page:

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