Food

Two festive recipes: yuletide meringues take the cake

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What follows the turkey, roast potatoes and trimmings? A Christmas pudding, perhaps? Or maybe a chocolate log? Both delicious, but why not try something different this year? When we saw these recipes for beautiful meringue pavlovas with a twist, we couldn’t help wondering why, oh why has meringue – delicious chewy, sweet, naughty meringue – never made an after-Christmas-dinner appearance? As a showstopping alternative to a pudding doused in flaming brandy, these are just as likely to conjure up gasps when presented to guests. Try Lizzie Kamenetzky’s tangy, layered pavlova with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds or follow Waitrose’s lead and arrange your meringues as a yuletide wreath topped with roasted plums. Guaranteed to make an impression and likely to become a Christmas Day regular from now on.

Passion fruit and pomegranate pavlova layer cake

Passion fruit and pomegranate pavlova layer cake

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours

  • 10 medium egg whites
  • 525g caster sugar

For the topping and filling:

  • 4 passion fruit, scooped out and sieved, seeds discarded
  • 3 tbsps caster sugar
  • 750ml double cream
  • 2 tbsps Cointreau
  • 3 tbsps orange curd
  • 3 tbsps lemon curd
  • Seeds of 2 pomegranates
  • Zest of 2 limes, thinly pared
  • Runny honey, for drizzling

Step 1: Heat the oven to 110°C/Gas Mark ¼. Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper, then draw a 27cm circle, a 22cm circle and an 18cm circle on each respective sheet.

Step 2: Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl using a hand-held electric whisk, until they form stiff peaks. Still whisking, add the sugar, a little at a time, until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Step 3: Spoon half the mixture over the largest circle, and divide the rest between the smaller two, putting slightly more on the middle-sized circle. Use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture to the edges of your circles and make pretty swirls and peaks. Transfer to the heated oven and cook for 5 hours, then turn off the heat and leave in the oven to cool completely.

Step 4: To assemble, stir the passion fruit juice and sugar into the double cream – the mixture will thicken with the acid from the juice. Stir in the Cointreau and curds to make a luscious thick cream. If it is not thick enough (some passion fruits are juicier than others), whisk a little; if it’s too thick, add a splash more cream.

Step 5: Place the largest meringue on a flat serving plate and spoon over one-third of the cream. Scatter with some pomegranate seeds and lime zest. Top with the second largest meringue and spoon over another third of the cream and more seeds and zest. Top with the smallest meringue and finish with the rest of the cream, seeds and zest. Drizzle all over with the honey and serve.

Tip: Keep your egg yolks for custards or quiches. Add a pinch of sugar or salt (depending on whether you want to use them for sweet or savoury dishes) and beat well before freezing in
freezer bags or small containers. Label how many yolks you have in each bag and whether they are sweet or savoury. Defrost slowly in the fridge before using.

Hazelnut meringue wreath with roasted plums

Hazelnut meringue wreath with roasted plums

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes

  • 5 medium egg whites
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 100g roasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 plums, halved and stoned
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsps light brown muscovado sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 250ml double cream, lightly whipped

Method

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and, using a plate or pan lid as a template, draw a 28-30cm circle on the parchment with a pencil. Turn the paper pencil-side down.

Step 2: Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff, then add the caster sugar a teaspoonful at a time, mixing well between each, until stiff and glossy. Fold in the hazelnuts.

Step 3: Using the pencil circle as a guide, spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet in 12 spoonfuls that just touch to create the wreath shape. Make a shallow hollow in the top of each one with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 1¾ to 2 hours until pale golden and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside to cool completely before removing.

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the plum halves in a shallow dish or roasting tin. Scatter with the mixed spice and muscovado sugar, and drizzle with the orange juice. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the plums are tender. Leave to cool.

Step 5: Transfer the meringue to a board or flat plate, or prop up as a centrepiece. Serve topped with the whipped cream and plums.

Tip: Make the meringue wreath and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Roast the plums and chill for up to 48 hours in advance. Return to room temperature before serving.

Recipes from The Great British Bake Off: Christmas by Lizzie Kamenetzky (£9.99, BBC Books, itunes.apple.com), out now; Hazelnut Meringue Wreath with Roasted Plums Recipe by Waitrose

  • The Book

    Combining emotive photography of Syrian refugees with recipes from chefs and food writers, Soup For Syria, (£18.99, waterstones.com) is an incredible project spearheaded by food writer and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad. All profits from the sale of the book go to the UN Refugee Agency.

  • The ingredient

    An ideal stocking filler, this cocktail travel pack (£13.95, worldofzing.com) contains four 50ml bottles in a handy pouch to slip in your hand luggage. Flavours include a Bordeaux cask-aged negroni and a spiced rum punch. Just pour over ice and enjoy.

  • The gadget

    Large enough to fit more than a full bottle, this mulled-wine pot (£35, formahouse.co.uk), comes with its own heater so you can enjoy a steaming cup of winter spices wherever you are in the house.

  • The restaurant

    After its sell-out stint in London’s Balham last year, Jimmy Garcia’s fondue pop-up The Lodge now gets a permanent home in Clapham (thelodgeclapham.com). Lean back on tartan benches and feast on melted cheese and dessert-worthy cocktails (think blood orange liqueur hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream). Sod the skiing; it’s all about the après.

  • The toast topper

    Spruce up your toast on Christmas morning with one of the quirky and creative recipes from Posh Toast (£9.74, Quadrille, waterstones.com). These smoked salmon breakfast cups look particularly impressive.

Illustrations: Hattie Stewart

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