Almond Meringues with Berries and Mascarpone Cream

meringue w berries.jpgThis stunning dessert is so much simpler than it looks. Which is a good thing since you will really impress everyone without making that much of an effort. Plus, you can bake the meringue disks up to a week in advance. Who wouldn’t want that, especially during Christmas feasts?

These meringues are airy, light and slightly chewy with the delicious crunch of almonds and mellow flavor of brown sugar. You can of course, sandwich them with just some whipped cream and berries but I think mascarpone adds luxury and more substance to this divine dessert.

In addition to everything else, these home-baked meringues don’t loose their height as easy as store bought ones. You can assemble this dessert up to 6 hours in advance and it will be great, even to eat the next day. For breakfast. It’s Christmas. Save the guilt-trip for January. Happy holidays 🙂

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs cornflour
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup raw almonds

For assembling

  • About 700 grams fresh strawberries
  • About 300 grams blue berries
  • 100 grams mascarpone
  • 2 cups double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbs icing sugar
  • 50 grams pistachios, unshelled roughly chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 130 C. In a small food processor fitted with a metal blade, chop the almonds until finely chopped but some bigger pieces still remain (you want to feel the almonds when you eat the dessert).

Using a pencil, draw 3 x 20 cm circles on 3 pieces of greaseproof paper. Turn the paper over so that your drawing shows through but won’t affect your meringue. Place paper in 3 oven sheets. Alternatively you can draw 2 x 25cm circles. You will end up with a two layer dessert, about 30 cm round (meringues expand in the oven).

In a bowl of a food processor add granulated sugar, brown sugar and cornflour. Blend until sugar becomes really fine.

Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until egg whites are frothy and soft peeks have formed. Add sugars, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a firm meringue with stiff peeks. Add vanilla and vinegar and beat 3 minutes longer until meringue is stiff and glossy.

Take bowl off the mixer and carefully fold in the almonds, taking care not to deflate the meringue. Spread meringue following the circles as a guide, on the 3 pieces of greaseproof paper. Bake for one hour. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues for another hour in the oven with the door ajar. You can use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly open.

Remove meringues from the oven and cool completely. You can make meringues up to one week in advance and keep at room temperature, loosely wrapped with plastic wrap. Meringues will be fragile so take care when moving or covering them. If they break don’t panic. You will put them together when layering and your dessert will be just fine. No one will know!

Make the mascarpone cream. Put mascarpone in a bowl and add about 3 tablespoons double cream and the vanilla extract. Stir with a spatula to soften slightly. Beat the remaining double cream with the icing sugar until soft (not stiff) peeks form. Fold mascarpone in the whipped cream with a spatula. Don’t over mix as mascarpone tends to curdle. Make mascarpone cream up to 2 hours before assembling. Keep covered in the fridge.

Assemble the dessert up to 6 hours before serving. Cut strawberries in quarters or halves (depending on their size). Place one meringue disk on a serving platter. Spread 1/3 of the mascarpone cream on the surface and top with 1/3 of the strawberries. Repeat the same process twice with the second and third disk. Sprinkle the dessert with the chopped pistachios. Keep refrigerated until serving time. For a «snowy» effect, dust with icing sugar before serving.

Prepare yourself to be worshipped as the king or queen of desserts.

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