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Category Archives: Meringues

Very Berry Eton Mess

Strawberries, cream and meringue – summer on a plate.

In late September in Sydney we are experiencing 30 degeee days and lots of sunshine. It feels more like summer than spring! This is a happy time when the climate of the two hemispheres is somewhat aligned. Late summer in the north meets early summer here.

So let’s celebrate strawberries in all their glory! Here’s an Eton Mess, more procedure than recipe. My version has a mixture of cream and mascarpone, a pink meringue, some strawberry goo (strawberries cooked with a little sugar until gooey) and strawberry powder sprinkled on top, the latter a serendipitous find at @TheSourceBulkFoodsBalmain, my local providore for nuts, grains, dried fruit etc.

Here is the procedure. I am not giving quantities – just use your judgement as to how much you want of each ingredient.

Ingredredients

Strawberries

Cream

Mascarpone

Crushed meringue

Strawberry fruit goo* (you could just as easily use strawberry jam)

Strawberry powder

Method 

Layer individual glass dishes or one large trifle bowl with  hulled fresh strawberries, cut in half if large, or left whole if small.  Add cream to some mascarpone until the consistency of whipped cream – add a little cream at a time so you can find the “right” consistency.

Pile spoonfuls of the cream mixture onto the strawberries, then sprinkle over some crushed meringue. Add a little of the strawberry fruit goo.  Add more spoonfuls of cream, strawberries and larger meringue pieces.

To finsh, sprinkle over some strawberry powder.

So there it is – Eton Mess with a very berry theme!

*Strawberry fruit goo – cook 250g of very ripe strawberries with 50g sugar in a pan over a medium heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar dissolves, mushing the strawberries a little. Cook until the mixture has reduced and you have a sticky jam like consistency.

 

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Berry Meringue Cake for Christmas

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I made this cake last year for my friend Ruth’s birthday. I’m re-blogging it here as Christmas approaches as it would make a colourful festive offering.

I  think it would be lovely to have at Christmas time – maybe on Boxing Day if not on the big day itself.  It has echoes of a Christmas trifle – fresh berries, sponge and cream.  The meringue gives another texture to the creation.

Each layer is easy to make, and the whole cake can be assembled on the day you bake it. But it does take a little more time than (my) average throw-all-the-ingredients-in-the-food-processor cake!

To make it, you construct layers of meringue and sponge cake with layers of berry mousse, rasbberry jam, more berries and cream. The mousse really softens the meringue layers and make the sponge cake almost dissolve.

You will need: meringue layers, sponge cake layers, berry mousse, raspberry jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.

Berry Mousse – I used raspberries, blackberries and a few cherries. I’ve made it before with blueberries and strawberries in the mix too.

Ingredients
400g mixed frozen berries
125g caster sugar
300ml cream
1 sheet gelatine
Method
Soften gelatine in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Place frozen berries in a saucepan with the caster sugar. Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down. Remove from heat.
Squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add to the berry/sugar mixture in the saucepan. Stir gently to dissolve the gelatine. Set aside to cool. Whip the cream to soft peaks in an electric mixer. At this stage you can strain the berry mixture if you want a pure mousse, or you can leave the broken down berries in the mixture if you want a more fruity mousse.
Fold the berry mixture carefully into the whipped cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour until the mousse has thickened but not set completely.
Meringue Layers

Ingredients
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Roughly mark out rectangles the same size as the sponge cake tins on baking paper (about 23cm x 33 cm). Turn over the pieces of baking paper – you can see the rectangle markings – and place them on each of 2 baking trays.
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff. Stir in vanilla and vinegar.
Spoon meringue onto paper rectangles, smoothing out tops so there no obvious peaks.
Place baking trays in centre of oven. Cook for 10 minutes to set the meringue, then turn down oven to 100 degrees C.
Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meringue is dry, but not brown.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar until meringue is cool. When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.

Sponge Cakes
Ingredients
50g cornflour
50g plain flour
50g self-raising flour
4 x 60g free range eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease 2 rectangular cake tins or Swiss roll tins (I used a regular cake tin and a Swiss roll tin, both 23cm x 33 cm) and line bases with baking paper. Sift flours and 1/4 teaspoon salt together three times to aerate.
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume. Gradually sift flour mixture over egg mixture while simultaneously folding in with a large metal spoon until just combined.
Divide mixture between prepared tins. Gently level the batter with a spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back
when gently touched.
Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away baking paper, then leave to cool.
To assemble the cake:

Mix a couple of tablespoons of raspberry jam with a teaspoon of water and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Brush the jam mixture liberally over both sponge cakes.

Place one of the meringue layers on a serving platter. Spread the meringue with 1/3 mousse. Scatter a few sliced fresh berries over the mousse. Place one of the sponge layers on top of the mousse. Spoon another 1/3 of the mousse onto the cake. Dab a little whipped cream – a couple of tablespoons – onto the mousse. Scatter a few more sliced berries over the mousse and cream. Repeat with the other sponge cake layer, the remaining 1/3 mousse, a little whipped cream and more sliced berries. Place the other meringue layer on top.

Chill in the fridge for a few hours to firm the cake. Decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries in whatever way takes your fancy.

The cake cuts well once it’s chilled. Everything softens up. It keeps well in the fridge, and like trifle, the flavour improves as everything blends together with time!

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Brown Sugar Pavlova

 

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I made some mini brown sugar pavlovas recently, see here for my previous post. The brown sugar – in this case mixed with raw sugar – gives the pavlovas quite a caramel kick. They’re a little more flavourful than the usual pav.

This recipe is not strictly a pavlova, which is a meringue dessert, in one layer, usually with sides and an indentation in the middle to hold the filling. I made two meringue discs which I sandwiched together with cream. If it had been a little more finessed, I would have called it a vacherin. I’ve made a couple of these for the blog in the past, too. But I’m still calling my rustic two layer meringue a pavlova, which it really isn’t! A pav by any other name…

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Ingredients

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

175g raw caster sugar

85g  soft brown sugar

1 tbls cornflour

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Filling

200ml  cream

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Crushed Malteasers

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Draw 2 large circles (about 24cm) on baking paper on 2 baking trays.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the raw caster sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the cornflour and vinegar.

Pile the mixture onto the circles on the baking paper and spread into shape with a spatula. Place the baking trays in the oven and reduce the temperature immediately to 130 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door ajar and leave the pavlova discs until completely cooled.

Once cooled, carefully peel away the baking paper. Choose the best pavlova disc for the top. Put the other disc onto your serving platter, upside down so that the flat, baked side is uppermost. whip the cream with the vanilla paste. Spoon the whipped cream onto the bottom layer, then sandwich with the top layer. Crush some Malteasers and scatter randomly over the pavlova.

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Here’s a quick video montage for Brown Sugar Pavlova:

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Bills in Sydney’s Darlinghurst: Fab Food, Fab Vibe

 

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I’m a long time fan of Bill Granger and his food. His iconic first restaurant, bills in Darlinghurst, is a favourite place for breakfast or lunch – and it’s just around the corner from where I work.

Bill is an Aussie who now has restaurants worldwide, which all reflect his ethos for food and dining. When you walk into bills in Darlinghurst, the vibe is friendly, warm and generous. No pretensions here! The communal table is great, allowing everyone to share in each others’ dining experiences as you observe the delicious dishes being served to fellow diners.

As Bill says: ‘This is where it all began, in 1992. bills Darlinghurst is where I did my growing up. The miniscule kitchen and tiny dining room in one of Darlo’s old backstreet pub buildings set the tone for what we still do today. Local by-laws allowed us only a few seats – hence the now much-copied communal table where everyone ate together, reading the newspaper or striking up a conversation with the person enjoying scrambled eggs next to them. Today, it’s still a simple Sydney corner café, serving a menu of bills classics.’

There are some dishes that bills is famous for – creamy scrambled eggs, utterly moreish ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter and sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon. These two latter dishes are breakfast through to lunch and I’ve had both at either end of the morning! Bills burgers are pretty good too, the wagyu burger, with grilled swiss, pickled green chilli, herb mayo, rocket and fries is one of the Darlo offerings.

Another favourite on bills menus is the Aussie pavlova, and, as readers of other of my posts know, that’s a version of meringue of which I am very fond, possibly even obsessed… The Darlo bills version is a brown sugar pavlova, with rhubarb, pistachio and rosewater yoghurt.  I ate this recently and had to go home and instantly recreate my own version, see my Brown Sugar Pav post here.

The rest is in the photos. I’m regret I don’t have a photo of the scrambled eggs or wagyu burger – oh well, I will need to visit bills again soon I guess!

433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

http://www.bills.com.au/

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Brown Sugar Pavlova with Maple Butter Pecans

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I had lunch recently at Bills in Darlinghurst, the original restaurant created by Bill Granger, now one of several restaurants world wide showcasing Bill’s simple and iconic style. I’m a huge meringue and pavlova fan, as this blog attests, so I had to order the brown sugar pavlova. It was amazing, crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, with a lovely caramel flavour of brown sugar.
It was really made for sharing, but this greedy diner ate it all by herself! And I didn’t share it with my Quirky Colleague, which was probably a bit mean, as the pavlova was so delicious.
So I decided to recreate it, with a few of my own tweaks on Bill’s original recipe, including changing the quantities. My version has raw caster sugar for an added caramel hit, and I served it with maple butter pecans. I mixed light sour cream with thick cream for a tang, to offset the sweetness of the meringue.

 

Ingredients

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g raw caster sugar

55g  soft brown sugar

3/4 tbls cornflour

1/1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Filling

150ml thick cream

50g light sour cream

1 tsp butter

50g pecans

2 tbls maple syrup

A handful of blueberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Draw small plate-sized circles on baking paper on a large baking tray.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the raw caster sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the cornflour and vinegar.

Pile the mixture onto the circles on the baking paper and spread into shape with a spatula. Place the baking tray in the oven and reduce the temperature immediately to 130 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door ajar and leave the pavlovas until completely cooled.

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Combine the thick cream and the light sour cream in a bowl.  Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the pecans. Toss in the melted butter, then add the maple syrup. Fry until the pecans are coated in the maple butter, but be careful not to turn the maple butter to toffee!

Spoon the cream mixture onto the mini pavlovas, scatter the maple pecans and blueberries over the pavlovas and drizzle with the remaining maple butter. Serve straight away. You can also freeze the unfilled pavlovas for filling at a later date.

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Meringues Meringues Meringues!

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I love any kind of meringue. Pavlova,  vacherin, lemon meringue pie or plain old little meringues which are bursts of sweet airiness.

Little meringues are quick and easy to make. There are a myriad of things you can do with them – serve them on their own, make meringue sandwiches with a cream filling, flavour them, colour them, or pile them high into a meringue mountain which is my favourite thing to do.
Here are a few meringue mountain ideas.

Meringue Mountain

Make meringues – flavour and colour of your choice – and pile up croquembouche style sandwiched together with vanilla cream.

Here is my no fail meringue recipe, originally from Margaret Fulton, via an old recipe of my mother.

Ingredients
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.

Add your flavouring at this point or food colour. Spoon or pipe onto prepared trays. In the image below I made pink rosewater meringues as well as plain ones.

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Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better. When cool, store in an airtight container.

I like my meringues free form – but you could certainly pipe them for a more formal effect!

Assemble your meringue mountain in whatever way takes your fancy. I decorated the pink and white rosewater meringue mountain with crystallized rose petals.

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Here is another flavour and colour combination. Use the basic meringue recipe and add these flavours and colours:

Rose water meringues: a drop of rose water and a couple of drops of red food colouring

Orange meringues: a drop of orange flower water and one drop of orange food colouring

Pear meringues: a drop of pear essence and a couple of drops of green food colouring

Almond meringues: a drop of almond essence and one drop of blue food colouring

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And this meringue mountain, using the basic recipe, is made up of sour cherry meringues and chocolate meringues.

Meringue Mountain

 

 

 

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake

 

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Strawberry and Watermelon Cake – bliss! But how can you combine a delicate fruit such as watermelon into an entirely delicious cake? It would be a daunting task. Watermelon, so refreshing on a hot summer’s day, a drink in fruit form. But in a cake?  And not soggy? And a cake that also has layers of dacquoise or meringue… seems tricky.

The people at Black Star Pastry in Sydney have manged just that, and other delicate and unusual flavours in cakes. I was was the recipient of their Orange Cake with Persian Fig one birthday, see here for the post.

Last week my long time friend (we’ve known each other since we were five!) Doctor Rosemary, had a dinner where she recreated the Strawberry and Watermelon Cake.

It looked and – more importantly tasted – sensational! She had managed the impossible, and achieved the dehydration of the watermelon, to create crisp layers that did not take away from the crunch of the dacquoise. I think it was texturally and taste-wise better than the original. Well done Rosemary!

 

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So here is the recipe, from Australian Gourmet Traveller. It’s worth making!

Ingredients
250 g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60 ml (¼ cup) rosewater
4 tbsp caster sugar
40 g almond meal
500 g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp slivered pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals

Almond dacquoise
150 g almonds, coarsely chopped
150 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
5 free-range egg whites
135 gm caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300 ml thickened cream
30 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater

Method

For almond dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then combine in a bowl with icing sugar. Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread on a 30cm x 40cm oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways.
Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbsp sugar. Stand to macerate (30 minutes), then pat dry with absorbent paper.
Meanwhile, for rose-scented cream, whisk cream and sugar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form (do not over-whisk).
Spread one-third of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 minutes). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals, and serve.

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