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After a long day of eating mountains of gravy-drenched carbs, a little brightness is a welcome sight indeed. Sadly, Thanksgiving dessert is usually anything but light and refreshing; it’s another carb parade, with whipped cream standing in for gravy.
Believe it or not, there are people out there who don’t care for pie. I’m not one of them, but there are legitimate reasons—celiac disease, egg or dairy allergies, a missing sweet tooth, sudden turkey naps—to skip the Thanksgiving dessert spread and save room for midnight sandwiches. But I think even pie deniers can find room in their cold, deprived hearts for a cloud-like pavlova smothered in cranberry sauce, whipped cream, and plenty of fresh winter fruit.
I know what you’re thinking: who in their right mind would tack meringue onto their Thanksgiving prep list? Sure, it sounds a little crazy, but I promise that this meringue is a total breeze—and even if it weren’t, it’d be worth it. Between the sweet, airy meringue, super-tart cranberry sauce, luscious whipped cream, and crunchy pomegranate seeds, every bite is a huge party, which is exactly what you want after a heavy meal. Whether you’re anti-pie or just feel like making something totally different this year, I don’t think you could do much better.
Photo: A.A. Newton
Most pavlovas use French meringue for the base, but I prefer a lazy Swiss meringue here. It takes longer to dry out properly, but it’s so much easier to make that I find it worth the trade-off. Rather than heating the egg whites and sugar over a water bath, I just zap ‘em in the microwave for a bit—it’s a hell of a lot faster. Every other part of this recipe is extremely low-effort: simmer up a quick cranberry sauce, whip some cream, toast a handful or two nuts, and that’s it.
For the meringue:
For the cranberry sauce:
Preheat your oven to 215ºF. Trace a 10-to-12 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper and lay it in a sheet pan. Set aside.
Thoroughly mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar (or lemon juice or vinegar), and salt together with a fork in a large microwave-safe container. Heat for 15 seconds, stir well with a flexible spatula, and rub a bit between your thumb and finger; if you can feel sugar granules, keep heating and stirring until you can’t. This took me about 45 seconds total.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high heat until the mixture is thick, super-glossy, and holds stiff peaks, 4-5 minutes. Scoop the meringue onto the center of your parchment paper circle and nudge the edges outward, swooshing the top to your heart’s content.
Flop out your meringue onto the parchment... ...swirl it around to your heart’s content... ...and bake it low and slow until dry to the touch.
Bake the meringue for three hours at 215ºF, or until the surface is dry to the touch. Increase the heat to 250ºF and bake for another fifteen to twenty minutes. Crack the oven door, turn off the heat, and cool to room temperature, around an hour. If you’re not assembling the pavlova immediately, wrap tightly in plastic and store in a dry place for up to two days. It’s OK if the parchment sticks to the bottom—just wrap that up, too.
While the meringue bakes, make the cranberry sauce: combine the cranberries, water, brown sugar, citrus zest, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and burbling. Have a taste and add a touch more sugar or salt if needed, but keep it as tart as you can stomach; the meringue is pure sugar. Cool to room temperature.
Photo: A.A. Newton
To assemble the pavlova, transfer the meringue to a serving platter. If yours is nicely dried out, you may be able to pick it right up off the parchment; if it’s sticky, which is fine, invert it onto the platter and peel the parchment off the bottom.
Plop the whipped cream on top of the meringue and spread it outwards with a spoon. Spread the cranberry sauce over top, and scatter the pomegranate seeds, nuts, and/or orange segments over that. Serve in slices—a wet knife is clutch here—or have at it with a spoon.
The meringue will soften the longer it sits, so eat it as soon as possible. It shouldn’t be too hard; there are only two people in my house and this is all we had left:
Photo: A.A. Newton
Not three hours later, the pavlova was gone. Like I said—it’s that good.
This article was written by A.A. Newton on Skillet and shared by A.A. Newton to Lifehacker from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.