Things to Be Thankful for and a Recipe for Pumpkin Showstopper Pavlova


In this column, Katherine Knowles divulges recipes you can make in your tiny New York City kitchen.

So, incredibly, the spacecraft Rosetta caught up with speeding comet 67P and dropped a probe that is, as of right now, digging for information that could reveal the secrets of the origins of life on Earth.

It’s a diverse and wonderful world indeed that can contain both comet-probes and Kim Kardashian’s butt photo shoot in the same week. One of them, a wonder of design and structural engineering. The other, a space probe.

We can only speculate that Kim celebrated with a sip of that Champagne that she so accurately and believably fountained from bottle to precariously balanced glass. The folks at NASA? Probably not so much.

I have no firsthand experience of how NASA marks significant occasions, but I was there to watch the reveal of the Higgs boson (a/k/a God particle) at CERN last summer, and the NYU physics department celebration went like this:

Polite applause.
1 cm of sparkling wine in a paper cup.
Total silence.

However we choose to celebrate the things for which we are thankful, it’s the noticing and recognizing that matters, not the marking. But should food be one of your celebrations, you could do a lot worse than this showstopper of a dessert.

Sure, you could just make the mousse and serve it in ramekins (very easy). But for drama, you can’t beat a Pavlova.

For the Pavlova
4 egg whites
8 oz caster sugar
A cut lemon

For the pumpkin mousse
1 cup of heavy cream
1 can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Make the Pavlova:
Pre-heat the oven to 250°F.
Whisk the whites in a clean bowl (wipe with a cut lemon to get rid of grease) until they form stiff peaks; add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the mixture is glossy.
Spoon the meringue onto parchment in a fat, mostly circular disk. Put the meringue in the oven and turn the heat down to 225°F.
After an hour, it should be crisp on the outside. Turn the oven off and let it dry out and cool down for another hour.

Make the Mousse:
Whip the cream until it’s billowy — technically, medium peaks. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin with the sugar, spice, and milk.
Fold the pumpkin into the cream, trying not to knock out all the air.

Bring it together:
Invert the cooled meringue onto a plate (so you have a flat, soft top to melt into the mousse). Top with the mousse and chill for at least an hour. Decorate with a grating of dark chocolate, or a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

This serves 6-8, depending on the quantity of food everyone ate at Thanksgiving dinner.