Recipe from Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard by Romney Steele (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011)Sweet, crackly meringue provides a decadent stage for luscious folds of scented cream and berries in this gorgeous dessert. I especially love tart red currants paired with rose and almond, a heavenly combination that reminds me of the extravagant, far-flung flavors of Tunisia, where I once spent a month. White currants tend to be a little sweeter than red and also make a nice garnish as shown. Dress the whole affair with rose petals or rose geranium flowers.
Almond meringue with rose cream and red currants
Serves 8 to 10
- 1/3 cup whole almonds
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons orange flower or rose water
Red Currant Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups red (and/or white) currants, plus more for garnish
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- Drop vanilla extract or orange flower water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar or warmed honey
- 2 teaspoons rose water, or more to taste
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Draw two 8-inch circles on parchment paper with a pencil and lightly grease the areas with butter or a neutral oil, like canola. Place on a large baking sheet.
- Unsprayed rose petals, for garnish
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
To make the meringue, coarsely grind the almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor. In a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Add a couple tablespoons of sugar and beat until the whites begin to peak. Gradually add more sugar, beating until the whites are glossy and almost tripled in volume but not stiff or lumpy. Beat in the vinegar and flower water. Dust the sugared almonds over the top and quickly fold in by hand to incorporate.
Loosely spread the meringue onto the marked parchment, allowing it to loop and swirl. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 250°F. Bake for 1 to 1 1?2 hours, until the meringues are fairly set and no longer tacky to the touch. During baking, lower the temperature even more as necessary to maintain an even heat and avoid excessive browning, and occasionally rotate the baking sheet so the
meringues bake evenly throughout. The meringues should be fairly white to light tan.
Cool the meringues on the baking sheet in the oven with the door slightly ajar for a few hours, up to overnight. Meringues crisp up as they cool. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in a cool place for up to 3 days, or freeze for longer storage.
To make the currant sauce, stem the currants and place in a saucepot with sugar to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the berries burst and the mixture becomes saucy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a small bowl.
Let cool before using.
To make the rose cream, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Beat in the rose water, adding more to taste. Spread the cream loosely on top of the bottom meringue. Drizzle half of the cooled red currant sauce over the cream, stirring some of it through the cream to create a swirled effect. Top with the other meringue, spreading with more cream and sauce. Garnish with whole currants and rose petals and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. It's best if assembled within a couple of hours of serving.