As a side effect of the quarantine we mastered the art of the meringue. Were the batches of unchewable or dark experimental tries worth? Yes – because at the end we came to a decent result that combined with whipped cream and strawberries results to one of the best desserts during a quarantine or anytime – a simple Eton mess or pavlova.
The deliciousness is unproportional to its simplicity – but who says that complicated recipes are always the best… Just think of sushi… Or pommes frites.. it’s what you do with the ingredients; they just have to be the best and you just need to put a sense of fugues into your cooking or baking. Like what Bach did with a Blockflöte.
We tried several meringue approaches ( with burned sugar,corn flour or cream of tartar) and we found that the basic version with a splash of Calvados works best.
For the meringues (makes app. 15 golf ball size meringues)
- 2 large egg whites (at room temperature)
- 60g caster sugar
- 60g icing sugar
- 1 Tbsp calvados (optional)
Preheat the oven to 100°C (fan).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Put the egg whites into the clean bowl of a mixer and whisk them at a medium speed until they start to form nice firm peaks.
Now turn the speed up and gradually add the caster sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until sugar is dissolved (about 10 seconds between each addition). Once all the caster sugar has been added, continue to whisk on high for 3 mins. Whisk in the calvados if using. If it feels grainy, whisk for a little bit longer, being careful not to overbeat. When ready the mixture should be thick and glossy.
Sift one third of the icing sugar over the meringue and fold gently with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the rest of the icing sugar by sifting and folding one third at a time. Again, be careful not to over-mix.
Spoon golf ball size spoonfulls of meringue onto the prepared baking trays, using a second spoon to scrape it off the spoon.
Put the tray into the oven. After 45 minutes rotate the tray 180 degrees and continue baking for another 45 minutes, until the meringues easily lift off the paper and sound crisp when tapped underneath.
Gently lift the meringues from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool and ready to use crush them into small pieces.
The meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For the Strawberry compote
- 300g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half
- 70g caster sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
Place the strawberries in a medium saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice over medium-high heat and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the sugar has dissolved and the compote thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature, about an hour.
For the macerated strawberries
- 500g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters
- 50g caster sugar
Put the strawberries in a bowl, add 50g caster sugar, toss very gently to coat and leave in a cool place to macerate for at least 30 minutes, until they begin to give up their juices.
For the whipped cream
- 250 ml cold whipping cream
- 1,5 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Put cream, vanilla extract and sugar in the (preferably cold) bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks begin to form. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
To assemble fill a bowl (or six individual bowls/glasses) with layers of whipped cream, strawberry compote, macerated strawberries and crushed meringues. Repeat layering until all the ingredients are used, reserving some macerated strawberries for the top. Garnish with mint leaves and serve as soon as you can, otherwise the meringues will go soggy.