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Ahead of the holidays the Délice Glacé team has noticed an uptick in our sales of pavlova shells. Clearly, you're getting ready to entertain. These shells are ready to fill so they make perfectly portioned, individual desserts for all your guests, even those who are gluten free and dairy free!

In case you need some filling inspiration for your shells, here are ten of my favorite fillings. I've added some links which are unpaid endorsements.

Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries: This is a go-to classic that deserves to be acknowledged. Dollop billowy whipped cream onto your pavlova, and top it with a vibrant assortment of fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. The creaminess of the whipped cream complements the tartness of the berries, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.

Lemon Curd and Raspberries: Add a zesty twist to your pavlova by filling it with luscious lemon curd like this one from Stonewall Kitchen. The citrusy brightness of the curd pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the pavlova. Top it off with plump, juicy raspberries for a burst of color and an extra layer of tanginess. This option is dairy free!

Chocolate mousse and Hazelnuts: Spoon a rich, chocolate mousse, like this readily available one by Petit Pot into your pavlova shells, top with a smidge of whipped cream and sprinkle generously with chopped hazelnuts for a delightful crunch. The marriage of chocolate and nuts adds a decadent touch to this already exquisite dessert.

Mango and Passion Fruit drizzle: Embrace the tropics with a pavlova filled with ripe diced mango and a drizzle of passion fruit . The sweet and juicy mangoes, combined with the tartness of passion fruit, create a tropical symphony that transports your taste buds to paradise. You'll need good quality fruit for this one. I like to purchase my tropical fruits from Tropical Fruit Box Top with a dollop of fresh cream or a rich, creamy full-fat European style yogurt.

Salted Caramel, Chestnuts & Pecans: Elevate your pavlova with the irresistible allure of sweet and salty. Smear a salted caramel sauce like this one from Williams Sonoma over your plate. Fill your pavlova shell with a generous helping of fresh whipped cream, add some diced chestnuts, sprinkle sparingly with pink salt and top with a generous fistful of crushed glazed pecans. The sweet-salty combination with a hint of nuttiness adds a layer of complexity that will leave your guests craving more. To me this has all the hallmarks of a Christmas dessert.

Vanilla Custard and Mixed Berries: Add a generous lashing of a good quality vanilla custard to your shells. I recommend La Fermiére. Crown it with a medley of mixed berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, for a timeless combination that never goes out of style.

Almond butter, banana and Coconut cream is a delightful marriage of textures and tastes, perfect for those who crave a harmonious blend of sweetness and nuttiness.

The almond butter infuse each bite with a velvety, buttery essence that complements the sweetness of the meringue. Layered generously on top are slices of ripe bananas that bring a creamy texture that contrasts with the crisp meringue shell and adds a burst of freshness to every mouthful.

To elevate this dessert to new heights, we lavish it with a generous helping of velvety coconut cream. The coconut cream adds a tropical touch, bringing a luxurious, silky finish that ties together the diverse flavors seamlessly and makes this dessert dairy free.

Neapolitan Pavlova a whimsical twist inspired by the iconic tricolor layers of Neapolitan ice cream. Nestle a vibrant compote or a medley of fresh strawberries into the shell. This fruity layer introduces a refreshing and slightly tart note. Top with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream and top with with a warm velvety chocolate sauce. If you really want to commit to the Neapolitan concept and add a touch of green you can bring in that extra element of decadence by sprinkling with high quality, salted and lightly crushed pistachios.

Black Forest The gateaux from which we take our inspiration is not just a cake; it's a celebration of flavors. Typically, this cake is an indulgence but our meringue version is light enough to enjoy on a random weekday! Melt some good quality dark chocolate over a double boiler or in your microwave. At Délice Glacé we use Guittard for our creations. Add a small pool of melted chocolate into the center of your shell and top with a tart cherry jam or soak some fresh or frozen diced cherries in kirsch before filling your shells. Top your creation with luscious, lightly sweetened whipped cream and show with shard of shaved chocolate.

Fruitcake We're going to take the best part of a fruitcake, the boozy, candied and dried fruit and mixture and marry it with other flavors that make this pavlova creation a holiday hit. I turned to my Mom for this one because she makes the best fruit cakes that I've ever had! Fruitcakes are traditionally wedding cakes in many cultures and this is the very fruit mix that she used to bake my wedding cake. She also baked my sisters' wedding cakes and was called upon to bake wedding cakes for many friends and family members. My Mom raised three kids, ran her own business, supported my Dad's business and somehow found the time to bake several wedding cakes every year! She says that one trick was to have copious amounts of this fruit mixture always at hand. But this is no ordinary fruit, it's a mixture of Zante currants, sultanas, raisins, diced prunes, dates and candied orange peel. Put these in a jar and then completely cover the fruit with a deep, woodsy cognac, brandy or rum. The higher the quality of the alcohol the better your fruit mixture will turn out. Next, be very, very patient. The mixture is ready to use after a month. Add it to your pavlova shells. Top with whipped cream, which will mellow out the boozy fruit. Drizzle with some treacle. I like to add a piece of marzipan fruit to the top of my creation.

These crisp, gluten free shells are made by hand and only available online at Délice Glacé. But remember we bake these to order, so purchase in plenty of time and remember to post your creations and tag us on instagram @delice.glace.

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That most merry time of year is upon us. Unfortunately for many it is generally accompanied by a lot of stress that revolves around gift giving. Here are some time saving tips that I've learned while managing a household, raising three kids and running a business.

Make your lists early

Santa is not the only one who should be making lists at this time of year. Make your lists early and categorize by family, friends, teachers/caregivers and co-workers.

Set a total budget and a budget for gifts in each category

While this seems obvious, too many people often overlook this part.

I'm really proud that Délice Glacé has an entire selection of gourmet gifts, from our Festive Pop for $6.00 to our large gift boxes for $39.95 and all manner of meringue gifts in between.

Find a few local small businesses that you trust

The best thing about choosing a small business is the level of customer service you will enjoy. I will often just send my list to a person who is a dedicated gift concierge or even to the business owner directly. I describe the types of products I would like and my budget and they do the rest! How easy is that.

Here are some of the small, local businesses* that I use for my gift giving.

-For California grown, made and inspired foodie gifts I choose Sigona's Farmers Market

-For gourmet foodie gifts with a selection from around the globe I choose Draegers Market.

Both can create gift baskets for you using products in store.

-For the best San Francisco seafood or high quality meats as gifts I contact Bryan's Market. If you are local, they also carry the most gorgeous flowers that I often pick up for myself or my hosts.

-For toys I like to head to Cheeky Monkey and for books I go to Keplers Books both in Menlo Park.

At Délice Glacé you can contact us and send us your list with your budget and we can help you customize a gift selection for each recipient.

Buy gifts that can be shipped or delivered to your recipient.

Santa might like to ride around town delivering gifts but do you? A lot of small businesses will either ship nationwide or deliver locally. Most of the above businesses offer both. Bryan's Market will ship their aged steaks and other foods overnight.

Délice Glacé also offers local delivery and nationwide shipping. We have also introduced rush shipping this year.

ONLY buy gifts that come ready for gift giving.

I have made this mistake before. Drowning in a sea of wrapping paper, ribbons and bows at midnight is enough make anyone feel decidedly grinch-like; you must avoid this scenario at all costs. Turning to a small business will prevent this because almost all small businesses will personalize and wrap your gifts.

The night that I spent wrapping gifts after the kids were in bed has always been the inspiration behind the design process for the packaging for our meringues. To me it is imperative that our meringues are always gift ready. Our entire Holiday Shoppe collection comes complete with bows. We also include hand-written cards to your recipients.

What are some of your favorite stress busting and time saving tips around the holidays?

* These are not paid endorsements; these are literally some of my go-to favorite local businesses. Yes, some may carry Délice Glacé's fine meringues but that is no co-incidence because they are purveyors of the finest foods in North America.

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Meringues are the delicate darlings of the cookie world; they are tricky to bake but they are just so pretty and darn delicious that its easy forgive their finicky mannerisms.

Small changes during the making or storage of meringues can make them chewy due to the ambient humidity on the day that we bake. We follow strict protocols that control moisture and temperature during our production process so our meringues are always crisp when they exit our ovens. We taste test each batch for perfect crispness; even a bit of chew and back they go into the oven for another long rest before they can be packaged.

We even package our meringues with those tiny desiccant packs that suck up ambient moisture but because our meringues are made the same way you make yours in your home kitchen I.e. not starch slurry and no stabilizers, over time they may pick up moisture from their surroundings regardless of our best efforts. Other times your meringues will remain so crisp in their packaging you will swear they were baked yesterday. We blind taste tested our pumpkin spice meringues from our 2018 pop up shop against freshly baked ones in the fall of 2020 and we could not detect a perceptible difference in the crispness.

So what to do when you open up a bag or carafe and your meringue is chewy. You have two options; your meringue is now the texture of a light taffy so enjoy your meringue taffy! We have had customers tell us they love the juices that flow out of our meringues when they get chewy. But if like me, you love the crispness of meringues follow these easy instructions:

Preheat your oven to 200 F

Do not use the convection function. If your fan is on, you will have flying meringues!

Place meringues in oven for 10 or a maximum 15 minutes

Cool completely.

Once your meringues have cooled, decant them into an airtight plastic jar.

You will want to do this anyway, as soon as you open a bag or container of our meringues. Meringues should not be stored in glass jars or containers. Meringues should not be refrigerated or frozen despite all the advice out there; that is a cardinal sin and will RUIN your meringues. Please enjoy and in the comments do let us know your thoughts on crispy vs chewy meringues. I'm always on Team Crispy.


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