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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Soft Meringue Pavlova with Berries & A Meringue Crumble

A soft Meringue is a pleasure to eat, like chewing on air with a comforting
soft  and slightly gummy texture, you will want to go on for ever!

It is December! And while almost everywhere in the world, it is getting colder by the minute and even snowing at some places, it is still strangely warm here in Dubai. Yes Dubai is a warm place, but it feels warmer than usual at this time of year! Now, we would love a white Christmas here in Dubai, however it is highly unlikely lol! But nothing can simulate an iceberg and the airy crispness of snow like a white Meringue with a serving of Vanilla ice cream together with the freshness of Berries; Yum! Yes, you guessed it: It is the best loved dessert with the grace of a Ballet dancer: The Pavlova.

Soft Meringue
Pavlova is a very famous desert and quite a retro one too. I like retro, but I also like to add my twist to things! I have gone for a soft white Meringue in this recipe, one that has an ever so slight crunch on the outside and an almost marshmallowy texture on the inside. The Meringue alone has a pillow-like chew to it - kind of like the floating island feel, but with more density - one that will make you want to go on chewing for ever! With the melting of a creamy vanila ice cream, and the tartness from the raspberry coulis and the berries, the experience is just Divine. Add to that the mixture of white, reds and hints of green, I think it is the perfect recipe to kick start posts for the festive season ;)

Meringue is one of my favourite desserts to use as an ingredient in the making of other desserts. I like to crumble it on top of fruit salads, dessert cups and puds, I find it to be very versatile and happen to love its texture. However if you want to know the real goodness of Meringue you have to try good quality ones rather than the store-bought stiff as a rock variety that might break your teeth before you discover its flavour! I have extensively covered Meringue types and perfecting Meringue in a previous post (click here for the post) and I recommend that you read that post if you wish to perfect Meringue and Meringue desserts. I am also including a meringue crumble at the end of this post, which is a fabulous way to use up Meringue leftovers and fruit salad leftovers. So we are on Cloud #9 this festive season and today it happens to be made out of Meringue!

Le'ts get to it....

Soft White Meringue
For a slightly stiffer Meringue, turn the heat off and keep the meringue in the oven for 1 more hour.

Makes 6 large Meringues
You Need

For Meringue
6 egg whites, at room temperature
200 g Caster Sugar
150 g Icing Sugar
2 sachets powdered Vanilla Essence
a squeeze of lemon (few drops) or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

For Raspberry Coulis
250g Fresh Raspberries
2 tbsp Caster Sugar

For the Mixed Berries Topping
1/4 cup Raspberries
1/4 cup strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup blackberries
2 tbsp red currents
Zest of 1 orange
zest of 1/2 lime
4 tbsp Caster sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dried mint Leaves
10 fresh mint leaves, Chiffonade
2 turns of the mil, fresh black pepper

Meringue has to be white and shiny when done whipping 

Start by making the Soft Meringue,
Preheat your oeven to 120F and line baking sheets with baking paper.

Place the egg whites with a squeeze of lemon in the bowl of your electric mixer or a bowl and mix on medium using the wire attachment, or whisk until the egg whites start to thicken and become white. In the meantime, mix the caster sugar and vanilla essence together. Add the caster sugar a little at a time to the beating egg whites, mixing well after each addition. Continue to beat until you reach a medium consistency (between stiff and soft peeks, check out instructions on 'Understanding Meringue' post). The Meringue should be pure white and shiny.

Gently fold in the sifted icing sugar.

Place large dollops of Meringue onto the lined baking sheets, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and bake for 3 hours. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then place in an airtight container until ready to use. If you want your meringue to be slightly stiffer, turn off the oven, and leave the meringues inside for an extra hour.

A hint of black pepper lends berries a depth to the flavour and keeps your guests guessing :)

In the Meantime, prepare the Mixed Berries Topping
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix to coat. Leave to set for 1 hour at room temperature, then mix again and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the Raspberry Coulis
Place the raspberries together with the caster sugar in the blender and blend to incorporate. Push the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the seeds and refrigerate the coulis until ready to use.

To serve,
Swirl some raspberry coulis at the bottom of your plate, place a piece of Meringue in the centre, top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream then with the mixed berries. Drizzle slightly with more coulis. Serve immediately.

For the Crumble, 
A very good way to use meringue, berry topping or fruit salad leftovers. Simply crumble some meringues, top with leftover berries topping or any leftover fruit salad, then add some more crumbled meringues. Serve over ice cream, or on its own. You can even go for an Eton Mess, if you add some whipped cream and layer all in a cup! Very simple and messy but delicious.

Hope you've enjoyed today's post and this recipe. I love to hear from you, so why not leave a comment before you go and let me know what you think :)

It is the Season to be Jolly,
So make sure you are ;)