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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Kit said...

Your sunset coulis is too beautiful! I've ever tried cooking meringues at such a low temperature. I usually cook at 150C and then turn off the oven leaving them overnight to cool as the oven cools, which also works, but I must try your way too.
I can't think of any other possible solution to that ingredient list - what did the Mastercheffies come up with I wonder?

calligraphyafrica said...

great recipe with crackle and chew. But I am looking for a soft meringue (the bakery in La Rochelle) used to sell them sandwiched with cream - so soft - no crackle, just a gentle sigh as you bit into them and soft chewiness. Would love to get hold of their recipe. Any ideas?

calligraphyafrica said...

great recipe with crackle and chew. But I am looking for a soft meringue (the bakery in La Rochelle) used to sell them sandwiched with cream - so soft - no crackle, just a gentle sigh as you bit into them and soft chewiness. Would love to get hold of their recipe. Any ideas?