So you want a festive dessert for your holiday dinner. but cake, per se, is not quite your thing. Or you already have a cake planned and you want to supplement with something different. Here are some options.
A pavlova is a disarmingly easy dessert. Named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, it makes an almost magical presentation and is perfect for people who avoid gluten. A Berry Pavlova With Vanilla Whipped Cream and Pistachios is a classic; its meringue has a crunchy exterior and an airy, marshmallow-like interior. It is different from the meringue in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Rolled Pavlova With Peaches and Blackberries, which is softer and fluffier and rolled up — with the fruit and whipped cream filling the inside and garnishing the outside. Either way, a trick for making a more stable meringue is to add little cornstarch and vinegar to the egg whites.
Locally grown quinces (which have a very short season) for Ben Mims’ French-style Quince Tart are still available in stores through January. Elegant and flavorful, I’d say it’s easy as pie to make, but in truth it is even easier. You do need a few hours to cook the quinces, but store-bought puff pastry makes for quick, easy assembly. Martha Rose Shulman’s Blood Orange and Rhubarb Tart calls for a more classic short crust and uses a blood orange and rhubarb compote in place of a custard. The rinds are left on the deep red-and-orange-colored slices of fruit, some of which burn ever so slightly around the edges when baked for a striking presentation. You get a wonderful combination of sweet, tart and burnt orange flavors in the fully baked and glazed tart.
For a more homey, laid-back but no less satisfying dessert, try Ray Garcia’s Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding. Chunks of brioche, banana and dark chocolate are soaked overnight in a mixture of heavy cream, eggs and milk, and spiked with vanilla before baking to puffed, custardy perfection.
Any of these delicious desserts will make a splendid finish for your holiday celebration.