Desserts To Help Ring In The New Year Pastry chef Aggie Chin talks with NPR's Ailsa Chang about desserts for your New Year's Eve party. This week, it's citrus pavlova cake.
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Desserts To Help Ring In The New Year

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Desserts To Help Ring In The New Year

Desserts To Help Ring In The New Year

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We're joined now one last time by pastry chef Aggie Chin. She's been with us this holiday season with recipes for all our gatherings. And this time, we'll be talking about the perfect dessert for a small festive dinner party on New Year's Eve.

Welcome back, Aggie.

AGGIE CHIN: Thank you - glad to be here.

CHANG: And given our dinner party theme this week, we've invited two of my favorite dinner party guests, Susan Davis and Sam Sanders from the NPR Politics team. I love that you guys are here.


SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: It's good to be here. Thanks for having us.

CHANG: So Aggie, tell us what we are going to be eating today. I'm staring at this luscious-looking dessert right below my face right now.

CHIN: Today, we have a citrus pavlova. So a pavlova is a meringue-based dessert. Right now, I turned it into kind of, like, a cake for a dinner party. So it's two layers of the meringue, and then in between you have a lemon cream with some citrus. Right now, I have grapefruit, cara cara oranges and just regular navel oranges, some candied grapefruit peel and just a little bit of more meringue crushed on top.

CHANG: And then you've also been so generous and brought this beautiful beverage.

CHIN: Yes. If it's New Year's, you have to have some bubbles. So I brought a sparkling rose. And then in it, I put a little bit of grapefruit sorbet.

CHANG: Well, as a service to all listeners who are thinking about making this dessert, I think we should give it a taste test.

You want to?

SANDERS: We've been (unintelligible) already.

DAVIS: We've already been eating.


CHANG: What? You didn't even wait. Oh, you just let me yap (laughter).

SANDERS: It's so good (laughter).

DAVIS: I wanted to taste it as she spoke about it.


CHANG: All right, I'm digging in.

SANDERS: See? This does not seem easy to make.

CHIN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: It doesn't.

CHIN: No. But it's so much easier than like, let's say, a layer cake where you have to get, you know, the frosting levels right and then you have to get the outside all pretty. This is kind of beautiful in that it doesn't have to be perfect. And it's delicious.

SANDERS: It's so delicious.

CHIN: Yeah.


CHANG: It's so pretty and elegant, though, still.

CHIN: Thank you.

SANDERS: I feel fancy.

CHANG: Sam may be feeling fancy now. But earlier this year, we were the furthest thing from fancy. All three of us - Sam, Sue and I - spent a lot of time on the road covering the election. And when you're stressed or short on time, responsible eating habits can go out the window - at least for me they do.

Sometimes the relationship between food and work can get kind of dysfunctional. Right? Like, for me, I stress eat when I'm on a reporting trip. And I crave things that I would never crave in my regular life. Like, I attack Combos. Every time I fill up my tank in my rental car with gas, I need to go into the snack bar and buy a pack of Combos - the cheddar cheese pretzel Combo, not the pizza flavor. I feel like even that's a little bit beneath me.

But what about you guys? Do you have some guilty pleasures on the road, like, comfort food that you need to get?

DAVIS: I try to stay as, like, healthy and simple as possible when I'm on the road. And sometimes, depending on the length of the trip, I try to bring enough, like, snacks in my backpack that if I did not have time to eat that day, I could sustain myself 'cause I think what people don't always realize is, like, when you're on the road a lot of times, from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed, you are filing or working or gathering tape. And eating is almost an inconvenience...

SANDERS: Exactly.

DAVIS: ...At some points on the road.

CHANG: Right. You have to stop.

DAVIS: So you need, like, utility food. And you need to feel good because you're like - you have these really long days. So I mean, I love a Baconator. I would not want to not eat a Baconator. But if I ate Baconators three times a day on the road, I might not be making deadline.


CHANG: Sensible Sue.

DAVIS: Yeah.

SANDERS: So - like, for me, there's usually, like, three modes of Sam and food on the road. Either, one, like Sue says, I'm scrambling and trying to file, so I'll have either cashews or almonds or a lot of KIND bars and bottled water and coffee...

DAVIS: Very practical.

SANDERS: ...And that gets me through. And I'll stuff my bag with all that stuff - just stuff it. Second mode of Sam is using the travel to reconnect with things that I can't always get in D.C...

CHANG: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...Like Chick-Fil-A.

Then the third mode of Sam-on-the-road-eating is trying to find the best dining experience that I can in, like, whatever town that I'm in. And I will never forget the best meal I had on the trail this year. I was in Detroit because I was there to cover Donald Trump's black outreach to a black church there. But the night before I went to that event, I went to this wonderful farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Detroit called Republic. And I had the best lamb chops of my life.

CHANG: What about you, Aggie? Like, do your tastes kind of go a little downhill? Could you stress eat? Tell us about that.

CHIN: No. It's - you know, it's interesting what Sue was saying about working all day and not really being able to sit down and eat meals. That's what my day is like at the restaurant when we're working. People kind of think - oh, you're surrounded by food. You're working in a kitchen, so you must eat wonderful food all the time. But it's quite the opposite. It's a lot of snacks. I'm like the snack queen. So it's a lot of almonds, a lot of, like, avocados with, like, yogurt. Or, like, I love cool ranch Doritos. Those are my kryptonite.

SANDERS: Who doesn't?

CHIN: Yeah (laughter).

CHANG: I love this confession. How do you, as a pastry chef, like, regulate your sugar intake? Or do you not? Can you eat sugar all day long and it doesn't affect you?

CHIN: Well, it's actually - this is another confession. I actually don't like sweets very much.


SANDERS: No. Oh, my goodness.

CHIN: Yeah.

CHANG: She reveals it finally.

CHIN: I love, like, bread and pastries and that kind of stuff. But I don't have a big sweet tooth.

CHANG: Sam and Sue, are you guys salty or sweet people?

SANDERS: All of it.

DAVIS: I love them both equally.

SANDERS: Plus alcohol.


DAVIS: Yeah, I know.

CHANG: Well, thank you so much, you guys, for being here. I feel like I hosted a dinner party. But I have absolutely nothing to brag about because I didn't cook or do anything. Aggie did all the work.

Thank you.

CHIN: No, thank you. It was so much fun. It was very nice to meet you both.

SANDERS: It's was a pleasure.

CHIN: Yeah.


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