Showing posts with label meringues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meringues. Show all posts

Friday, 18 December 2015

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

Apples and almonds have a great affinity with Verjuice. Although apples are not a traditional topping for a Pavlova, they work beautifully in this recipe, with its extravagant, brittle nest of almond-scented meringue, its clouds of whipped cream, and a reduced Verjuice syrup that’s just on the point of turning to caramel. The Pavlova should be made 8-12 hours ahead of time, and you can also prepare the apple filling well in advance.

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

This is another in a series of new recipes I've developed using Verjuice (available at Woolies), and I hope you'll give this recipe a bash, even if you're mortally afraid of making anything involving temperamental meringue.

My attempts at making billowing pavlovas and snowy, crisp meringues were spectacularly flat, sticky failures for many years, but eventually I nailed them, and I haven't had a flop since.  I hope my method works for you - and it it doesn't, please drop me a line on Facebook so I can assist you.

Pavlova with Poached Apples and Caramelised Verjuice Syrup

For the Pavlova:

5 extra-large free-range eggs
a pinch of Cream of Tartar
250 g caster sugar
2-3 drops of good almond extract

For the filling:

5 large crisp apples, peeled, cored and quartered (I've used both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, with good results)
1½ cups (375 ml) Verjuice
½ cup (125 ml) caster sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
¼ cup (60 ml) flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

First make the Pavlova. Heat the oven to 160 ºC, fan off. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a spotlessly clean bowl together with a pinch of Cream of Tartar (you'll find this in the baking aisle of supermarkets). Keep the yolks for making mayonnaise.

Using an electric beater or a food processor fitted with a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites for 2-3 minutes, or until they are standing up in firm - but not dry - peaks.

Add a third of the caster sugar at a time to the whites, whisking well for a few minutes between each addition. When you've added all the sugar, drop in the almond extract, to taste, and continue beating for another 3-4 minutes, or until the meringue is very thick, firm and shiny (with no sign of grittiness when you rub a blob between your fingers).

Your mixture should hold its firm billowing shape without drooping. If the meringue seems thin or floppy, your Pavlova will collapse in the oven, and you'll need to chuck out the mixture and start all over again.

Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled baking/greaseproof paper (put little blobs of meringue on four points under the paper to stick it down). Draw a plate-sized circle on the paper, spread a third of the meringue mixture over it to form the base of the Pavlova, then place big, generous dollops of the remaining meringue around the edges to form a basket. A huge metal spoon is the right utensil for this.

Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of your preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 110 ºC (oven fan off). Bake for an hour and a quarter, then switch off the oven (don't open the door!) and let the meringue case dehydrate, undisturbed, for at least 8 hours, or until it is crisp and dry.  If you'd like a Pavlova with a slightly squidgy centre, let the case dry out for 6 hours.

To prepare the apple filling, put one cup of Verjuice and the caster sugar into a pan.  Bring to a gentle bubble, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Add the apple quarters and poach, covered, for 9-11 minutes, or until they are just soft.  Set aside to cool completely.

To assemble the dessert, remove the apples from their syrup with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the remaining ½ cup of Verjuice to the syrup, turn up the heat and boil over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until the syrup has reduced by about two thirds, is turning to an amber colour, and is thick, glossy, and producing plenty of big lazy bubbles. Watch the mixture like a hawk – you want it to be just on the point of caramelising.

Whip the cream until it's thick and billowy, pile it into the Pavlova and arrange the apple pieces on top.  Drizzle the hot syrup over the top, scatter with toasted almonds and serve immediately.

Serves 6. 

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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Billowing Meringues with a Sunset Berry Coulis

Here's my latest MasterChef recipe, the third in a series of four recipes I've written for Woolworths, food sponsors of the latest South African series.

Billowing Meringues with Berries
Crackly, billowing, snow-white meringues in a sunset raspberry
and Cape gooseberry sauce.

I adore big, brittle meringues, but it has taken me years to figure out how to produce a crisp, delicate, snow-white result every time. The secret, apart from very long and patient whisking, is to dry the meringues out overnight in very low oven. This may seem like a long time to wait for dessert, but the end result will not disappoint you. If you'd like a slightly squishy centre to your meringues, take them out of the oven as soon as you're happy with their internal texture (to test, turn one over and poke the end of a pencil into it).

Billowing meringues with a Sunset Berry Coulis
The first time I made this, I strained both the sauces. 
I've used both raspberries and Cape gooseberries for this sharp-sweet coulis. The sunset effect was a happy discovery: this first time I tested the recipe, I covered the plate I'd photographed (see picture above) and put it on the countertop to see if the meringue would still be crisp the next morning. It wasn't, but the sauces had merged to create a very pretty puddle.

So the next time I made it (this time without straining sauces; see first picture) I plated the coulis in the morning, then popped the meringues and berries on top at the last minute.

Finally, this year, it’s not just bloggers getting the chance to get creative in the kitchen along with MasterChef and Woolies. Create a recipe with the same ingredients used each week by the Woolworths Masterchef Competition bloggers and you could win one of fourteen R1000 Woolies gift cards, or the (very!) grand prize of a R10 000 gift card. Head over to the Woolworths Masterchef Hub for more info and T&Cs.

Billowing meringues with a Sunset Berry Coulis

5 extra-large free-range eggs
a pinch of cream of tartar
250g caster sugar
250g Cape gooseberries
250g raspberries
150g strawberries, hulled and halved
icing sugar, for sweetening and dusting

Heat the oven to 55 ºC and turn the fan off.

Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in a spotlessly clean metal bowl. Add a pinch of cream of tartar. (Keep the yolks for making mayonnaise!)

Using an electric whisk or a food processor fitted with a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites for at least 7 minutes, or until they are standing up in very stiff, dry peaks.

Trickle the caster sugar into the egg whites, a few tablespoons at a time, beating well between every addition. Continue beating for another 5 minutes, or until the meringue is very thick and glossy, and easily holds its shape. (See Cook’s Notes)

Line a baking sheet with baking paper (put a little blob of meringue on all four corners of the sheet so the paper sticks to it).

Using two large spoons, scoop out an apple-sized ball of meringue and carefully place it on the baking paper, pulling the meringue upwards to form it into a billowing cloud. Repeat until you’ve used up all the meringue, spacing the balls well apart.

Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and leave the meringues to dry out overnight, or for at least 10 hours, without disturbing them. The longer you leave them, the dryer their centres will be.

Take half of the gooseberries and whizz them to a fine purée. Taste the purée, and stir in a little icing sugar if you’d like it sweeter. Chill.

Purée half the raspberries in the same way, then strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing down well with the back of a spoon. Taste the coulis and sweeten, if necessary, with a little icing sugar. Discard the pulp and chill.

To plate the dessert, decant the two purées into two little jugs. Holding a jug in each hand, simultaneously pour two puddles on to a dessert plate, gently flooding it so the different-coloured purées meet in the middle. Leave the plates to stand for an hour or two, if you’d like a graduated sunset effect – the line between the two colours will gradually blur.

Top each lake of purée with a crisp meringue, and decorate with the remaining gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Sieve a little icing sugar over each plate and serve immediately, with lashings of thick Jersey cream.

Serves 4.

Cook's Notes
  • You will know the meringue is ready when you place a big blob on a plate and it does not flop over or subside – it should perfectly hold its shape. 
  • Before you make the meringue, wipe the inside of the metal bowl with a slice of lemon to remove any grease spots, then dry thoroughly using a clean kitchen towel. 
  • To avoid a speck of egg yolk ruining all the egg whites, separate the eggs one by one into two small bowls, then add the whites one by one to the big metal bowl. 
  • Store the meringues, once cool, in an air-tight container. 
Serves 6.

Here is the list of ingredients I was given to work with:

Egg whites
Castor sugar
Cream of tartar
Icing sugar
Corn flour
Fruit selection

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Monday, 6 September 2010

Magic Marbled Microwave 'Meringues'

I'm not a maker of cupcakes or sweet fancies, but this recipe intrigued me, because it's quite unlike anything I've seen before. How can a stiff paste of unbeaten egg white and three cups of icing sugar make anything meringue-like? I had my doubts, but was interested enough to hotfoot it to the supermarket to buy several bottles of eye-poppingly bright food colouring.

Magic Marbled Microwave 'Meringues'
The recipe, which appeared in a local newspaper under the byline of Angela Day (a pseudonym used by the writers of a food feature that is run every week in newspapers of the Independent Group, and which first started in The Star in 1964), was accompanied by a photograph of some dainty, rather flattened pale-pink meringues sandwiched with whipped cream.

My enthusiasm turned to frustration within minutes. There wasn't enough egg white to bind the specified amount of icing sugar into a pliable paste. The marble-sized balls of meringue puffed up dramatically, and then flattened out to burnt-sugar discs.  Some of them caught fire. Others unfurled and then exploded. I tried shortening the cooking time, but the 'meringues' turned into sticky globs. Those bits that did escape incineration tasted like over-sugared air.

But, by gad, I was not going to be defeated. Three batches later, after much experimentation and swearing,  I'd used almost a kilogram of icing sugar, covered the kitchen in a sticky layer of goo, and stained my fingers in all the colours of the rainbow. But I had what looked, and almost tasted like, a meringue. The flattening problem was fixed by using paper cups (instead of placing blobs on a piece of baking paper); the explosion issue was resolved by cooking at least six meringues at a time.

Six important points about this recipe.

First, the drawbacks:

- These are not true meringues: their texture is too dusty, they are overly sweet, and they have none of the delicate, billowing loveliness of a proper oven-dried meringue.

- You will need to experiment with the cooking times. Every microwave oven is different, and it may take a few tries before you figure out the optimum number of seconds - and yes, seconds count here - it takes to cook the meringues to a perfect crispness.  For this reason, I recommend that you make a double batch of the paste (cover whatever you're not using with clingfilm) to allow for mistakes.

Second , the reasons I like this recipe:

- These are a perfect, last-minute sweetie-treat for birthday parties and cake sales. They are quick to make, and look very pretty, especially when sprinkled, just before cooking, with edible cake glitter.

- This is a wonderful recipe to make with kids: there is something magical about the way the meringues puff up, quadrupling in size, as they cook.

- These are a great standbye if you're making Eton Mess, or any recipe that calls for crumbled meringues (but do omit the food colouring).

- They remain super-crispy for at least 12 hours, and get crisper the longer they stand.

Magic Marbled Microwave Meringues

3 cups (750 ml) icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract or essence
food colouring
edible cake glitter (optional)

Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl.  Put the egg whites and vanilla into a separate, small bowl, and whisk very lightly for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is lightly frothed and smooth, with no gloopy bits.

Make a well in the centre of the icing sugar, and add a tablespoon of the egg white/vanilla mix. Using a spoon, or your fingers, mix well, adding a little more egg white as you go - less than a teaspoon at a time - so that you end up with a rather stiff, but pliable, paste. If you add too much egg white, and the mixture seems too runny, sift some more icing sugar into the bowl.

Magic Marbled Microwave Meringues
Add a few drops of food colouring to each hole.
Tip the paste onto a board covered with a sheet of baking paper and knead lightly with your fingertips for a minute.

Poke two holes, using a fingertip, into the paste. Add a few drops of different food colouring to each hole.

Lightly knead the paste again, twisting and turning as you go, to achieve a marbled effect. If you don't want to stain your fingers, wrap the paste in a big piece of clingfilm or put it in a polythene bag.

Make the meringues six at a time. Pinch off  pieces of the paste (the size of a large marble) and place each one in a paper case.

Sprinkle with a little edible cake glitter, if you have it.

Cover the remaining paste to prevent if from drying out. Arrange the six paper cases in a circle on the turntable of your microwave oven.

Magic Marbled Microwave Meringues
Set the time for two minutes, on high, and press the start button.  Watch the meringues closely as they cook: after 45 seconds or so, depending on the power of your microwave, they will billow upwards with great flamboyance.

Once they've stopped billowing, cook them for another 30-40 seconds (again, you will need to experiment here).   Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Makes about 40 'meringues'

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