by Victoria Pease
There is a sense of notoriety about meringues; they are difficult to master, hard to get right and for many, just not worth the hassle. This notoriety has reduced us to grabbing the pre-made nests off the shelves to indulge our crispy cravings of melt-in-the-mouth meringue. Yet, the problem remains that these pre-made versions have the texture and taste of polystyrene; they are dry, brittle and don’t have the wonderfully soft fudgy middle that can only be created from whipping the egg whites yourselfa.
It may seem like a daunting task, but the beauty of home-baking, as always, is the ability to put your own stamp on it. These meringues are swirled with red food dye to give a pretty marbled effect, and are topped off with a simple-yet-fragrant rosewater crème fraiche. And if that wasn’t enough, a two-berry fruit salad provides some difference of textures to this dessert/afternoon treat. This is serious elegance, and what’s more, it’s relatively simple.
The best part about making meringue is the knowledge that it is low in fat and reasonably low in sugar. Most of the calories in eggs are situated in the yolk, making the whites virtually saintly, and with a smidgen of caster sugar to give a little sweet edge; this is the perfect spring dessert to ease you into the season without ruining all your hard work with your New Year’s Resolutions.
Tip: These meringues would be great in a traditional Eton Mess, served with whipped cream, crushed strawberries and a dash of Pimms.
You Will Need
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
2-3 drops red food colouring
4 heaped tablespoons crème fraiche
2 teaspoons rose water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
A handful of strawberries, diced
A handful of blueberries
Preheat the oven to 140oc/120oc fan/ Gas Mark 1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, sticking the parchment down with a dot of butter in each corner. In a large very clean bowl, begin to whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer. As the mixture begins to become fluffy and white, slowly pour the sugar down the sides of the bowl. Keep whisking until the meringue has formed stiff peaks. Add the food colouring and slowly marble with a large metal spoon, taking care not to knock the air out of the meringue.
Using the spoon, dollop three large piles of meringue onto the baking sheet. Make a little dip in the middle and then place in the oven for 1 ½ hours until crisp. Leave the oven door open slightly and leave to cool inside for 30 minutes. The meringues can be left to cool completely overnight if desired. Once cooled, store in an airtight container until ready to be used. The meringues will last for up to a week.
To make the rose crème fraiche, add the rosewater, vanilla and crème fraiche to a bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Mix together the berries.
To serve, place a meringue on a small serving plate, add a tablespoon of the flavoured crème fraiche and top with the berry salad.