One of my oldest and dearest friends came out to visit with her 5-year-old son last weekend. I had no idea how much I had missed her over the years. Since she’s had kids, we haven’t had as much time to see each other, or even have phone chats more than a few times a year. Her son, Trevor, is such a sweet kid, and I found myself repeatedly being amazed by how well-behaved he was the entire weekend. One funny aside: on the plane out to NYC, they sat next to a guy wearing a yarmulke and reading–what I’m assuming was the Torah–in Hebrew. After noticing this, Trevor turned to his mom and asked, “What language does MaryAnne speak?” This struck me as both very thoughtful and very hilarious.
Mr. K was kind enough to babysit Trevor Saturday night so that my friend, Meghan, and I could have some solo lady time. I don’t have a lot of close girlfriends who live nearby, so I cherish my visits with those friends who I only see once a year. While sipping delicious cocktails, we caught up on all of the necessary things. Over the course of the weekend, I felt like a plant, not knowing that it was a bit dry, being watered. There is something so comforting about an old friend who knows you so well. Unlike spending time with newer friends, there is no effort in trying to get to know them better, wanting to present yourself in the best light, etc. It’s like curling up with an old pillow you’ve had for 20 years that fits your head perfectly.
This was my first time making pavlova. It was a bit intimidating at first, as I’ve heard horror stories about people making pavlovas, only to have them collapse after taking them out of the oven. Luckily, I did my research before making this, and learned that it is of the utmost importance to leave your pavlova in the oven, after turning it off, until it has been completely cooled. This slow decrease in temperature prevents the pavlova from collapsing. If you are a fan of meringue, or marshmallow, or both, you will love this dessert. And even better, it is an homage to rhubarb season. Enjoy!
Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream
Adapted from Food & Wine
1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 ounces rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries, plus 1/2 cup small strawberries for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, toss the pistachios with the cornstarch.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Beat in the vinegar, then beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the pistachio mixture. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue onto the prepared sheet and spread into a 10-inch round with a slight indentation in the center. Lower the oven temperature to 225° and bake the meringue for about 1 1/2 hours, until crisp but still chewy on the inside. Turn the oven off; let the meringue rest in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE RHUBARB CREAM
In a small saucepan, simmer the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice over moderate heat, stirring and mashing the rhubarb with the back of a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the quartered strawberries and vanilla bean paste. Let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream with the mascarpone at medium speed until moderately firm, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled rhubarb, then fold the mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Spoon into the center of the meringue. Garnish with the small strawberries and chopped pistachios and serve.