This wasn’t intended to be a Valentine’s recipe – as you may know, I’m not good at pre-planning recipes for specific celebrations or occasions. I genuinely had this in the house (just wolfed above bowl down post sandwich – decadent!) and thought it would be worth sharing as an easy but impressive dessert for this weekend – that’s if you’re planning to cook at home in celebration of old saint Val. If you’re single, or not celebrating then just take it as a nice easy dessert recipe.
I’m sorry for people who love this celebration, but I have to admit V-Day does make me feel a little queasy. The thought of eating out at a restaurant tomorrow makes me shudder. If you are going to celebrate with a meal, then I think cooking at home is preferable. It strikes the right balance between not doing anything at all (offensive!) and buying a big present for your other half (overblown!). Cooking a nice simple meal for your partner, enjoying some wine, and having a, er, cuddle – with a crap card thrown in too – that’s more than enough thank you very much. I’m English, I don’t like all this fuss and bother.
Meringues used to scare me. But not any more! I do still have food stuffs that scare me though – the main one is artichokes. This meringue recipe is from my most treasured tome, Delia’s Complete Collection – and it works like a dream. I take mine out of the oven before it’s completely cooled (Delia instructs that you should leave it in until the oven has totally cooled), as I love a very chewy, slightly gooey meringue. I make one big meringue and slice it up as required, topping with my favoured mixture of Greek yoghurt and whipped cream (50/50) sweetened with a slosh of maple syrup – but just use plain old whipped cream if that’s what you fancy. I have topped with blueberries, but any fruit would be good. Seasonal ideally – which mine clearly isn’t! Tsk!
It is similar to Eton Mess, apart from the fact that I don’t smash it up, liking instead to leave the meringue in tact. This dessert is possibly one of the best things in the universe, no exaggeration. The combination of crispy, sweet, chewy meringue with tart cream and bursts of fruit is second to none. I think it’s my favourite pudding.
You could make this with shop bought meringues but it is incomparable. Once you make your own, you won’t go back, I promise. I have used shop bought ones before, but really they are just balls of sweet powder. These are soooo much better. Why not make carbonara with the egg yolks the next day (whip up with cream and parmesan and tip over cooked pasta with fried off bacon). The meringue will also keep very well for a few days so it’s a great one to make in advance.
To make a large, plate-sized meringue, which serves 6:
175g golden caster sugar
3 egg whites
300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
300ml Greek yoghurt
Tablespoon of maple syrup
Punnet of blueberries
- Preheat your oven to 130C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and brush the parchment lightly with oil to prevent sticking.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl. Use an electric whisk if possible, it’s much quicker. They will suddenly thicken and shortly after will start to form soft peaks. When you feel this happening be careful – you don’t want to over whip the cream as it’s not nice when that happens. ‘Soft peaks’ means that, with the whisk turned off, you can whip up the cream and it will stay in a whippy peak shape.
- Slowly add your sugar, a bit at a time, until it’s all incorporated. It should be quite silky looking now.
- To stick your baking parchment to the tray, dot tiny amounts of meringue mixture on each corner (non oiled side) of the parchment and place on tray.
- If you want to do 6 individual ones, simply dollop 6 little nests on the sheet. Or do 1 big one by dolloping 2/3 of the mixture on, making a large circle roughly the diameter of a dinner plate. Then with a dessertspoon dollop little nests on top of the main circle, around the sides so you are creating a border with a space in the middle for the fruit and cream to sit, should you wish to serve it like that. You can use a skewer to swirl bits up and make it look pretty, but mine always looks a bit messy so don’t worry.
- Bake for 1 hour. Then turn oven off until cool to take out. I took mine out a little early (it was still a warmish oven) as I like them very gooey in the middle.
- When cool, either leave as is (good if you are planning to eat over a few days as a family as we did) and take slices when you fancy served with cream on the side and fruit on top. Or if you are serving everyone at once then pile the cream into the middle and fruit on top and around the sides. Et voila!