Nigella Lawson's Favorite Holiday Pavlova Is A Stunningly Simple Luxury

British cookbook author Nigella Lawson is a trusted authority on glorious holiday desserts. Lawson humbly describes herself "as an eater" more than a chef (via The Independent), but her cooking and baking chops are nevertheless tested and true. The television host's childlike wonder for the delights of the table, along with her educated perspective on the science of cooking, are prominently on display when it comes to Christmas food, in particular. In fact, one of Lawson's many cookbooks is devoted entirely to the Christmas season and its cookery, and others include sections on Christmas roasts and treats.

One of Lawson's most endearing traits is her unexpected juxtaposition of cozy and glamorous when it comes to holiday delights. Her "How To Be a Domestic Goddess" cookbook, for example, features both traditional British toffee pudding and a Christmas crème brûlée topped with gold leaf. She also delights in clever shortcuts that don't sacrifice taste or quality, streamlining elegant dishes so you spend more time feasting and less time fussing. Her Christmas pavlova is a perfect case in point: It's a riff on a creation known in Europe as the "Mont Blanc" for its resemblance to the snow-peaked Alps, tweaked by Lawson in a strategic use of canned goods.  

Reaching the summit of Mont Blanc without the trouble

Many versions of traditional Mont Blanc require a baked meringue base topped with mounds of whipped cream (thus achieving the snowy mountain effect) and a chestnut coating. The usual process is a laborious affair, since, after making the meringue base itself, you also need to cook, peel, and rice your chestnuts in order to make the purée.

However, Lawson recommends you do yourself a favor and skip that step. According to Food & Wine, she approves of a canned version of the chestnut purée, which she insists is more than up to the task and tastes delicious on its own (especially her preferred Clement Faugier brand). Once the chestnut-prepping steps have been eliminated, the rest is easy. 

Lawson knows and loves pavlova — a search for the dessert on her website yields 10 recipes. So, it's only fitting that she turns the classic Mont Blanc into a wider, flatter pavlova that's simpler to make and easier to slice and feed to a crowd. You can make the pavlova base (consisting of meringue ingredients like whipped egg whites and sugar) up to a couple of days ahead. Plus, if you prefer to have the whipped cream done in advance, a combination of mascarpone and heavy whipping cream should do the trick, Lawson says. And with the pre-made chestnut topping and some finely shaved chocolate in tow, you can assemble the whole thing à la minute, without even changing out of your party clothes. As one commenter on the author's tweet about the recipe said, "Thank you Nigella."