Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas celebration with your friends, family and loved ones.
Christmas in our home today started with a leisurely breakfast … until the children realised that they could open their Christmas stockings once they had finished their meal. I had never seen them chomp down their toast and scull their milk so quickly! Santa had been very generous with his delivery of little music boxes (playing French nursery rhymes), as well as a few wind-up toys which have kept the children quite entertained for most of the day, more so than some of the big-ticket items from under the tree which, ultimately, hardly elicited any reaction! (note to self for next year …)
Christmas lunch this year was a small family affair, which meant less stress in the kitchen and more time watching everyone open and enjoy their presents (including a shiny new handbag for moi!!). This year, I made a Duck Confit Shepherd’s Pie, which was a dish we made at Mimi Thorisson’s Manger Workshop last month. Duck confit is one of my all-time favourite dishes (you can find my recipe here), and I think turning it into a Shepherd’s Pie sort of takes it up a notch. I hope to share the recipe here very soon.
Alongside the main dish, we had our Christmas favourite, Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts. For this dish, I like to use really small Brussels sprouts, and I am thankful to one of my regular vendors at the farmers’ markets for providing extra teeny tiny Brussels sprouts this year; most were the size of small grapes! Our son managed to surprise us by requesting additional serves of Brussels sprouts, something which I plan to exploit for as long as they are in season 😉
And for the pièce de résistance, I made our favourite Chestnut Cream Pavlova for dessert. This year, I scaled down the pavlova to serve 2-4 people, and I took the easy route by using a can of sweetned chestnut purée instead of making my own.
Using tinned sweetened chestnut purée made this dessert super easy and stress-free for me. I daresay that I will be adopting this shortcut from hereon! But as tinned sweetened chestnut purée is not always readily available, it’s good to know how to make your own using the recipe which I have provided with my Mont Blanc Pavlova recipe (it’s a similar recipe to the Chestnut Cream Pavlova below, but makes a larger chocolate pavlova and has instructions on how to make your own sweetened chestnut purée).
My son has been asking for this pavlova each night since our Christmas lunch, and I think I might have to indulge him. With all of the egg yolks which we used to make multiple batches of Gingerbread Sablé in the past few weeks, I have so many eggwhites stashed away in the freezer, just waiting to be transformed into something irresistible like this pavlova. Bon appétit everyone!
- 2 egg whites
- 125 g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa, sifted
- 40 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
- 250 ml (1 cup) double cream (whipping cream)
- 250 g (8.75 oz) tinned sweetened chestnut purée (such as this one by Clément Faugier)
- small piece of dark chocolate for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer until they have tripled in volume and stiff peaks have formed.
- Slowly whisk in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
- Add the cornflour, vinegar and cocoa. Mix until everything is combined thoroughly.
- Gently fold through the chopped chocolate.
- Place a sheet of baking paper onto a baking sheet. Dollop the pavlova mixture onto the baking paper. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture into a round shape, and flatten the top of the pavlova.
- Place the pavlova into the oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C.
- Bake the pavlova for 1 hour. Turn off the oven but do not open the oven door. Leave the pavlova to cool completely in the oven with the door closed.
- Assemble the pavlova just before serving.
- Whisk the cream until it is thick and soft.
- Spread the sweetened chestnut cream over the pavlova.
- Top with the whipped cream.
- Grate the chocolate over the cream.
As the pavlova needs time to cool down completely in the oven, I often make the pavlova the night before serving, and leave it to cool in the oven overnight. If you don’t need to use the oven during the day, you can also make it first thing in the morning, ready to be served later that evening.
The pavlova should be assembled just prior to serving, so that it remains crisp for as long as possible.
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If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird