I’m lov­ing

In awe of meringue’s trans­for­ma­tive pow­ers, se­nior ed­i­tor Matt Pre­ston cel­e­brates its many guises and adap­ta­tions.

delicious - - CONTENTS -

Matt gets misty-eyed over meringue.

WE SHOULD RE­ALLY re­name De­cem­ber ‘meringue month’, be­cause it’s when recipe searches for pavlo­vas, meringue nests, meringue sheets and even just ev­ery­day meringue sky-rocket.

Of all culi­nary tech­niques, meringue is right up there with cakes and may­on­naise (which also ben­e­fit from the prop­er­ties of eggs) for the most mirac­u­lous of trans­for­ma­tions. How can some­thing so fluffy and glossy come out of the oven so strong and set? There is some­thing magic about meringue: how it can cap­ture bub­bles of air, how it can be chewy or crisp, how it can be mousse-like in an Aussie pavlova. Here are (just some of) my thoughts on meringues.

MERINGUE 101 There are three dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing meringues: French, Ital­ian and Swiss. The most com­mon is the ba­sic French method, where cold egg­whites at the soft-peak stage are fur­ther whipped with cold sugar added. The Ital­ian method has you whisk­ing the egg­whites as you drib­ble in a hot (115°C) sugar syrup for a more sta­ble and ro­bust re­sult – ideal for pip­ing, torch­ing, as top­ping on a le­mon meringue pie, or to cover a baked Alaska. The Swiss method in­volves whisk­ing the egg­whites and sugar over a pan of hot wa­ter un­til the tem­per­a­ture reaches about 50°C, then whisk­ing it un­til it’s cool – per­fect for frost­ing cakes and mak­ing yak­i­tori meringues. What? I hear you ask. YAK­I­TORI MERINGUE is a hot new thing re­plac­ing meringue shards and torched plumes of meringue on trendy desserts. Skew­ered meringue may all be a bit ‘so what?’ for those who make their pavs in the bar­be­cue, but I sup­pose toast­ing Swiss meringue on a stick is sim­i­lar to toast­ing marsh­mal­lows the same way. Any­way, I reckon it’s the ‘liq­uid puff pas­try’ of 2018. MERINGUE SHARDS are slowly be­ing left be­hind, back in the mists of the Turn­bull era (along with ‘soils’, ‘the smear’ and those dis­gust­ing soul patch ‘beards’). These once trendy shaped meringue sheets were flavoured with some­thing ro­bust, like pink pep­per­corns, rose­mary or laven­der, to match all the sugar. Why not make them for your next retro-themed din­ner party by spread­ing out a layer of your favourite meringue on a sil­i­cone mat. Bake in a low, slow oven and leave to dry out in the cool­ing oven. THE RECIPE And while we are on meringue desserts, let me in­tro­duce this month’s of­fer­ing, which crashes the flavour of Black For­est gateau into that fine New Zea­land dessert, the pavlova (which no one would have ever heard about if Aus­tralia hadn’t adopted it and cham­pi­oned it around the world).

The kirsch cher­ries bring a boozy flavour of North­ern Christ­mas to the Aussie sum­mer. Com­bin­ing them with plump new-sea­son fruit of­fers enough acid­ity, juicy fresh­ness and bright­ness to bal­ance the rich­ness and sweet­ness of cream and meringue.

Of course, the big ques­tion re­mains: would meringues have been as suc­cess­ful if they had kept their Olde English name, ‘pet’? This was given to them be­cause they were so light and airy, ap­par­ently, which is fair enough. The trou­ble is, the word ‘pet’ comes from the French and Dutch word for ‘fart’. Not sure how many ‘French farts’ you’d sell!

If all this has you want­ing more of my ma­te­rial on meringue, head to de­li­cious.com.au to get my take on the his­tory of this mag­i­cal dessert, plus other mouth­wa­ter­ing ways to serve it.

IN­DI­VID­UAL CHEWY BLACK FOR­EST MERINGUES MAKES 6

130g dark (70%) choco­late, plus ex­tra finely grated to serve 6 egg­whites 300g caster sugar 60g Amarena cher­ries (small cher­ries in syrup – from good gro­cers), plus 1/4 cup (60ml) Amarena cherry syrup, plus ex­tra syrup to serve 300ml thick­ened cream, whipped 200g fresh or frozen cher­ries Toasted flaked al­monds and tar­ragon leaves, to serve

Pre­heat the oven to 120°C. Line 2 bak­ing trays with bak­ing pa­per.

Chop 80g choco­late. Fill a small saucepan one-third full with wa­ter and bring to a gen­tle sim­mer. Place chopped choco­late in a small heat­proof bowl set over pan (don’t let the bowl touch the wa­ter) and stir un­til choco­late is melted. Re­move from heat.

To make the meringue, place egg­whites in a stand mixer fit­ted with the whisk at­tach­ment and whisk to soft peaks. Grad­u­ally add the sugar, whisk­ing un­til all sugar is dis­solved. Gen­tly swirl melted choco­late into meringue – do not mix it in. Spoon 3 large spoon­fuls of meringue, 3cm apart, over each pre­pared tray. Us­ing the spoon, press a small well into the top of each meringue for fill­ing later. Bake for 1 hour or un­til dry to the touch. Re­move from the oven, cool com­pletely, then trans­fer to serv­ing plat­ters. Melt re­main­ing 50g choco­late and stir through cherry syrup. Di­vide cream among meringue wells. Top with Amarena and fresh cher­ries, and scat­ter with al­monds, tar­ragon and ex­tra grated choco­late. Driz­zle with choco­late cherry syrup and ex­tra cherry syrup to serve.

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