Summer Berry Meringues
Few summer desserts come as perfect and simple as the humble berry meringue. Although it admittedly looks elaborate, don’t let culinary intimidation overtake you on this one – it literally takes no more than egg whites, sugar, cream, mascarpone and fresh berries to make this lovely and very tasty summer favourite.
My childhood experience with meringue was extremely limited. My mother was, and still is, staunchly opposed to meringue on almost all desserts; ‘airy’, ‘boring’ and ‘waste of space on my pie’ are just a few of her complaints. It wasn’t until I moved to Scotland and was re-introduced to meringue by my friend Claire did I realise what I had been missing out on for 28 years. I have everything in the world to thank my mum for – but seriously mum, depriving me of meringue? Shame. On. You.
The inspiration for this meringue was my lovely friend Bonnie, who mentioned offhand several days ago that she was making pavlova. I realised I had a few extra fresh eggs and some ripe berries on hand that would be perfect for my first meringue-making endeavour, and got right to work with high hopes I would be able to produce something both edible and suitably blog-worthy in appearance.
The recipe below is very straight forward and should produce lovely meringues, with a few extra tips in mind:
- Instead of using a pastry bag to pipe out the meringue before baking, I simply spoon the whipped egg white + sugar mixture into a resealable plastic bag, snip away a small corner of the base of the bag with scissors and pipe the meringue into nests by applying pressure to the opposite end of the bag. The mixture will be extremely sticky, so avoid getting it on your hands, clothing and work surface if possible.
- The meringue nests will appear to harden within a few minutes of placing them in the oven, but do NOT be tempted to take them out early, open the oven door during the baking process, or touch them at any time. This will cause the meringues to collapse and lose their light and airy texture when cooled. (The credit for this tip goes entirely to Bonnie – I was inclined to constantly open the oven door to see how they were doing, but she warned me of the consequences!)
- Allow the meringues to cool in the oven with the door open after the hour has elapsed. Transferring them directly from the hot oven to room temperature will also alter their texture and consistency.
I served these with several dollops of freshly whipped cream and mascarpone, a strawberry coulis, fresh berries and a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar. I removed the seeds from the coulis by running the mixture through a fine sieve, but if you like a more rustic appearance by all means leave them in. This was my first time making meringues, and I consider it a great success! I hope you’ll give them a try as well…
SUMMER BERRY MERINGUES
Makes: 8 large meringues
4 egg whites
100 grams caster sugar
75 grams confectioner’s sugar
250 grams mascarpone
350 milliliters heavy cream, lightly whipped
25 grams confectioner’s sugar
Berries + Coulis
300 grams strawberries, rinsed, hulled + quartered
150 grams raspberries, rinsed
50 grams blueberries, rinsed
25 grams confectioner’s sugar + extra, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius/300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place egg whites in a very clean and roomy bowl (they will expand greatly when whipped, so use a bowl far larger than would suit 4 liquid egg whites). Using an electric mixer, whip until mixture forms soft peaks.
3. Add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking thoroughly as you go. Whisk for a further 2-3 minutes until the peaks are shiny, smooth and stiff. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in confectioner’s sugar little by little; this should take approximately 2 minutes to fully incorporate.
4. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch circular tip (or use plastic bag tip, see above). Pipe mixture into round nests on prepared baking sheets and bake for one hour.
5. Meanwhile, prepare filling by placing mascarpone and 25 grams confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl; beat to combine. Carefully beat in double cream until mixture is just firm. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. After an hour has elapsed and meringues have turned a very light golden colour, turn off oven and open door. Leave meringues in oven for 15 minutes to cool, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
7. To make coulis, place 150 grams strawberries and 25 grams confectioner’s sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until liquefied. Press mixture through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
8. To serve, place meringue nests onto serving platter or individual serving plates. Spoon filling mixture into center of nests and drizzle with coulis. Serve with fresh berries and a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar.