Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sticky berry meringues with brown sugar creme fraiche and fruit compote

Chewy and delectably sweet, meringues are loved by almost everyone. The best are those that have a crumbly, fragile exterior and a meltingly tender mallowy texture within. I’d like to take this sentiment one step further and add the best are really rippled with fruit. Sure they may not rise to the lofty heights of your plain meringue but they taste that much better for it. 

Meringues are not difficult to make, although they are somewhat high maintenance – they are overly sensitive to moisture, fat and sudden changes of temperature. Before you start, ensure the bowl and whisk are dry and super clean. It is important to whisk the egg whites thoroughly - to incorporate as much air as possible - until they form stiff peaks. If you’re not sure. Stop whisking and turn the bowl upside down – stiff peak egg whites aren’t going anywhere -  although it’s a little sad to waste the eggs if you get overexcited and flip the bowl to soon. Continue to whisk thoroughly as you gradually add the sugar - don't be tempted to shower it in too quickly, otherwise the meringue will lose volume. The finished meringue should be smooth, glossy and hold firm peaks on the whisk as you lift it out of the mixture. Only add the fruit compote mixture for this recipe at the very end and be careful the meringues don’t brown – low temperature and time means everything. You can also find this recipe over on Daily Life

Serves 4
200g blackberries
25g icing sugar
2 large eggwhites
100g caster sugar
Crème fraiche
150g crème fraiche
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
50g brown sugar
250g fresh raspberries
Place the blackberries in a saucepan with 25ml water and the icing sugar. Place over low heat and bring to a simmer, cooking until a syrup texture is achieved – about 10 minutes. You want the syrup to taste slightly tart as the meringues are sweet. Allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and spray lightly with vegetable spray – this is important as the fruit meringues are a little sticky.
Beat the egg-whites until thick and holding firm peaks – you should be able to punch your finger through a bit of meringue mountain peak and it holds its shape. Keep beating, gradually adding the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time. Stop when all the sugar is incorporated and you have a very thick, glossy meringue that holds firm peaks. Add three tablespoons of the fruit puree to the mix and gently swirl it through to marble, keeping it nice and streaky. Spoon the meringue on to the tray in eight equal blobs, trying to keep them round in shape and roughly the same size. Bake for an hour and a half, then remove and leave to cool completely.
Combine the crème fraiche, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
To serve, carefully lift the meringues from the baking tray. Plate the meringues, dollop over a heaped spoon of the crème fraiche. Scatter over raspberries and serve with more puree trickled around.

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