Christmas Meringues with Fresh Strawberries, Vanilla Cream & Berry Jus.

November 29, 2013

It is that time of year again when delicious, red strawberries are in abundance, symbolising a NZ summer and the start of the festive season..What better way to enjoy fresh strawberries than folded through fresh vanilla cream dolloped over crisp & sweet homemade meringues (or pavlova)? We recently made this scrumptious dessert for a bbq with family and thought that you might like us to share this lovely recipe with you. 

If you don't have the time (or inclination to bake your own meringues), then The Gift Loft has several delicious "What's for Dessert?" Hampers, including the "What's for Dessert?" Meringue Hamper - petite meringues in either Summer Berry, Vanilla or Mocha combined with a Dessert Glaze (double chocolate, passionfruit or raspberry) and Devonport Chocolates Tablet (in decadent flavours such as Raspberry Dark; Hazelnut Straberry Milk; and Hokey Pokey). Also, see our Gluten Free Christmas Hamper and the very popular Christmas Hamper in a Garden Trug, both include the petite meringues and dessert glaze. These can be used instead of baking this recipe - just fold the meringues through the vanilla cream (add natural yoghurt for a more slimming, healthy option) and add fresh strawberries with the dessert glaze.

Here is the homemade version - it is a recipe derived from The Australian Women's Weekly Best Food Desserts Recipe & a Donna Hay Recipe, with a little bit of The Gift Loft's creativity thrown in too. What we like about this recipe is that: it only uses 4 eggs, it is quick and easy and they last a week, stored in an airtight container - so you can make them well before the time they are needed. Best of all, both the meringues and the pavlova are crunchy on the outside and marshmallow soft on the inside.  Freeze the egg yolks and use for a trifle sponge for Christmas day!

Festive Meringues or Pavlova with Strawberries, Vanilla Cream & Berry Jus.

Ingredients

4 egg whites - at room temperature;

1 cup castor sugar;

1 Tbsp cornflour;

1 tspn white vinegar;

100g dark chocolate, grated (62 or 70% dark chocolate is best) - optional;

300ml cream;

1 tspn vanilla extract (optional);

1 punnet strawberries;

1-2 cups frozen or fresh boysenberries, raspberries plus 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar (optional) for the berry jus;

1/2- 1 tsp cornflour made to a smooth paste with 1 Tbsp of cold water;

Splash of whisky (optional).

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degC.
  2. If making meringues, spread baking paper over 2 oven trays. If making a pavlova, make a circle from a standard size dinner plate on the baking paper - this is the outline for the pavlova shape.
  3. Place the egg whites in a very clean and dry bowl (make sure that not a drop of water or egg yolk comes in contact with the egg whites. If it does, then the egg whites will not form peaks and you will have to start again. This is a key point when making meringues).
  4. Use an electric hand whisk and whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form - about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Gradually add the castor sugar in tablespoon quantities, whisking well between each spoonful so that the sugar dissolves in the egg white. Continue to do this until all of the sugar is dissolved and the egg white mixture becomes stiff and glossy.
  6. Use a sieve to sprinkle the cornflour over the egg white mixture and also add the white vinegar. Use a spatula to fold the cornflour and vinegar into the egg white mixture. Do not overfold as you want to maintain the air in the mixture.
  7. If you want to add chocolate, then add the grated dark chocolate to the mixture at this point, leaving a small amount to sprinkle on top of the meringues at the end, before baking.
  8. Use a large tablespoon and drop dollops of meringue onto the prepared baking paper - leave room between each meringue (you can pipe the mixture but we like the non-uniform nature of dollops of mixture). If using chocolate, sprinkle the leftover grated chocolate onto the meringue tops. If making a pavlova, pour the egg white mixture into the circle on the baking paper and spread to make a round shape, smooth the mixture using a knife so that is is round and bowl shaped.
  9. Place into the oven, drop the temperature back to 120 degC and bake for 1 hour for meringues, and 1 & 1/4 hours for a pavlova. Do not open the oven door at any stage, even when the time for cooking has finished.
  10. Cool the meringue or pavlova in the oven - it is best to leave them there overnight.
  11. Store them in an air tight container until ready to serve - they last in a cool, dry place for 1 week.

Serving

  1. Whip fresh cream with vanilla essence and optional icing sugar.
  2. Gently melt the frozen or fresh boysenberries or raspberries in a pan with 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar until they form a syrup. Pour though a sieve. Return the sieved jus back to the saucepan and add the cornflour/water paste. Stir quickly over a gentle heat until the jus thickens slightly - ideally it is still at a pourable consistency. Remove from the heat and add a splash of whisky, if you wish. Cool slightly before serving. This step can be done in advance.
  3. Place a meringue on each serving plate, add a dollop of vanilla cream, a few fresh chopped strawberries, and drizzle over the berry syrup. If making the pavlova, place the pavlova on a plate, cover with the vanilla cream, place strawberries on top and drizzle with the berry syrup.

Delicious and so fresh! Below are photos of the precooked, cooked and "prepared for serving" meringues.