I think baked cheesecakes might be my super-power. (Making them and eating them). I never really have any problems with them and they always turn out well, slightly soft and rich and creamy, the way a baked cheesecake should be. This one is no exception […]
If you follow any of my social media accounts then you probably know that I went on a little trip to Lille in France a few weeks ago. Lille has some fantastic restaurants (my main motivation for going) and it’s also home to these little pillows of loveliness.
Merveilleux are meringues with a very thin crisp, almost caramelised shell and soft, cloud like interior. They’re covered in whipped cream and given a crunchy coating. I didn’t think that I was going to like them at first because I don’t actually have a particularly sweet tooth but the cream balances the sweetness of the meringue perfectly. They really are quite delicious.
We bought ours from Merveilleux de Fred, where people queue out the door to get them and they come in lots of different flavours with names like ‘Incroyable’ and ‘Impensable’. Mr Colonial Cravings has christened my version ‘formidable’!
They are a little tricky to coat because the meringue is so fragile but once the cream is on they should be fine, no one expects you to be as skilled as these ladies on your first attempt (I really wasn’t!).
1 egg white
the weight of the egg white in sugar
the weight of the egg white in icing sugar
250ml double cream
1 tsp espresso powder
2-3 tsp of sugar (or to taste)
pinch of cinnamon
about 15 speculoos biscuits (crushed)
Pre-heat your oven to 170°c and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Whip the egg white until it holds stiff peaks. Add half of the sugar and whisk again. Repeat this with the rest of the sugar and the icing sugar and continue to whip the mixture until it smooth, stiff and glossy.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a large round tip (or just snip the end off a disposable one) and pipe six flat discs of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Now pipe six little mounds of meringue, slightly narrower in diameter than the discs.
Bake the meringues for about 35 minutes, they should become quite golden and almost caramelised on the outside. Once they’re cooked take them out of the oven and leave them on the tray to cool.
Combine the cream with the sugar, coffee and cinnamon in a large bowl and whip until fluffy. Be careful not to over whip it though. Spread the crushed biscuits onto a large plate or a baking tray. Now you’re all set to assemble the merveillieux.
Be careful when handling the meringues, they’ll be much more fragile than traditional ones.
Add a dollop of cream to each of your meringue disc and then sit one of the mounds on top. Gently coat each of these stacks in the cream and then roll them in the biscuit crumbs, patting them in a little to make sure that they are well covered. Chill in the fridge so that they can firm up a little bit before serving.
Last year I was all about my gin & lemon tart but this may well be my new favourite summer dessert.
It’s indulgent and rich without being even the tiniest bit heavy. The sponge is wonderfully light and fluffy whilst the filling is creamy and sweet but not sickly with the orange and raspberries keeping everything fresh.
Yes, making a zabaglione for the filling requires a bit more effort than say, just filling it with cream but it puts the two extra egg yolks from the sponge to good use and really adds an extra depth of flavour to the whole dessert. I promise you it’s worth it (and sometimes you just have to show off!)
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine/white balsamic vinegar
90g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp Cointreau (or any orange liqueur)
150ml double cream
small punnet fresh raspberries
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and line a Swiss roll tin with parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks with approximately half of the sugar (don’t worry about being too precise) until they are really thick, fluffy and the colour of butter. Add the almond extract and vanilla paste.
In a second bowl whisk the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again until they are thick and glossy. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornflour into this meringue and briefly whisk it again.
Mix the ground almonds into the egg yolk mixture and then quickly stir in a big dollop of the meringue. This should loosen the batter a bit and then you can carefully fold in the remaining meringue, making sure that it is well combined but being careful not to knock too much air out of the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and then bake it for 15 minutes. Once the sponge is cooked leave it to cool in the tin.
Whilst the sponge bakes you can start making the zabaglione for the filling, so that everything has plenty of time to cool.
Bring a medium-sized pan of water to simmer. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a large mixing bowl and whisk them until they are pale and fluffy. Add the Cointreau (or whatever you’re using) and whisk again. Place the bowl over the pan of water and continue to whisk the mixture until it is quite hot (to cook the egg yolks),thick and fluffy. Take the bowl off the pan and then leave this to cool.
Whisk the cream until it is very thick and fold in the cold zabaglione.
Now time to assemble everything!
Liberally sprinkle the surface of the sponge with icing sugar and then place a sheet of parchment paper over it. Put a clean tea towel over this and then, quickly, whilst holding everything in place, invert it and remove the tin. Carefully peel back the lining paper from the sponge.
Make a very shallow cut along one of the short edges of the sponge, about 1” in. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Spread the zabaglione cream evenly over the surface and then top this with the raspberries (I try to keep mine in rows so I know they will be evenly spread once it has been rolled up and sliced).
Starting at the short end of the sponge with the cut in it, carefully and gently roll up the sponge, using the paper and tea towel to help you. Place the roulade seam side down on a serving plate and chill until you are ready to serve it.
BIRTHDAY! Birthday, birthday, birthday! Hurrah for me! I’m probably at the age where I should be dreading birthdays and worrying about entering a different age bracket on surveys, but the thing is…I REALLY like cake. Is it weird to get excited about making your own […]
This is a Christmassy version of the summer classic, lemon meringue pie. I made it for my Thanksgiving dessert this year, I always try to find lighter alternatives to the traditional heavy festive puddings that tend to be served after an already rich and heavy meal.
This has a lovely buttery-crisp pastry, a tart, refreshingly fruity filling and chewy, fluffy, crisp, sweet meringue billowing over the top.
If you plan on making your own pastry case then it does take a little more time and effort (worth it though) but otherwise it’s a fairly straight-forward dessert and it can always be made a little ahead of time and then warmed up a bit before serving.
200g plain flour
30g icing sugar
4 tbsp (ish) milk
250g cranberries (fresh or frozen)
juice of 3 oranges
3 tbsp cornflour
3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
4 egg whites
1 tbsp cornflour
To make the pastry, combine the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and lightly rub this into the flour mix with your fingertips. Work quickly and gently. Delicate fingers make delicate pastry. Once it starts to look like fine breadcrumbs use a little milk to bring it together to form a soft ball of dough. Only add as much milk as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it in cling-film. Put this in the fridge to relax for 15 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 220°c.
Roll the dough out so that it is large enough to line your pie tin. I like to do this on a piece of parchment paper so that I don’t incorporate any extra flour into it, which can make it tough. Lightly grease your pie tin and place the dough into it. Gently push the dough into the nooks and crannies of the tin and prick the base all over with a fork. Cover with foil or parchment and fill the tin with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes, uncover and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until it’s golden and cooked through. Leave to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the filling.
Simmer the cranberries in a large shallow pan with a couple of tablespoons of water for 15 minutes. Remove them from the heat and squash all of the un-popped berries. This is very therapeutic, it’s like fruity bubble wrap. Push this pulp through a fine sieve to leave you with several tablespoons of thick purée. Discard the remaining skins and seeds.
Whisk together the orange juice and cornflour in a large, heavy based saucepan. Stir in the cranberry purée and the sugar. Place the pan on a low to moderate heat and stir constantly until it has thickened, like custard. Remove the pan from the heat and cut the butter into small pieces before adding to the fruity mixture. Beat this in well, ensuring that it has all melted before adding the egg yolks, one at a time. Make sure that the mixture isn’t still too hot before you do this or you’ll get fruity scrambled eggs, not nice! Finally beat in the whole egg and return the pan to a very gentle heat. Continue to stir/beat the mixture until it becomes very thick then set aside to cool a little whilst you make the meringue topping.
Place the egg whites in a very large clean bowl and whip them until they hold stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar in two or three batches. Make sure that each addition has dissolved into the egg white before moving onto the next. Just rub a little of it between your fingers to check that it doesn’t feel gritty. The meringue should become thick and glossy. Finally sprinkle over the cornflour and whisk it in, this is what helps to give the meringue its chewy quality.
Pour the fruity filling into the tart case and spread it out in an even layer. Top this with the meringue, spreading it right out onto the edges of the pastry. Try to create a ‘peaky’ effect in the meringue so that it is quite tall with lots of points and spikes that will become golden and crisp.
Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes, until the meringue has coloured a little and become crisp on the surface. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.