Thursday, 24 October 2013

Raspberry Meringues with Sweet Basil Cream - Recipe

by Bex

For our latest baking club meeting, the theme was Pink again for Breast Cancer awareness month.  We were raising money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer for their #GreatPinkBakeOff campaign.  It was a fantastic evening and we managed to raise a whopping £97.50!  Which I managed to bump up to £100 by selling tasters the next day at work ;)

This time it was held at The No 1. Chocolate Factory which was a great venue with lots of space for us to spread out and sit around the cakes :)  I made meringues for the first time using another recipe I found in BBC Good Food magazine.  They ran a great feature on Rainbow meringues with various flavours and different flavoured creams to go with them.  Obviously I chose the raspberry ones so they'd be pink.  I had a bit of trouble finding freeze dried raspberries at short notice though (being a bit last minute getting my ingredients in a very unorganised week!!) and although I've since found out you can get them in health food shops (I tried Whole Foods Market and Tesco) and online, I had to resort to buying a box of Jordan's Country Crisp and picking out all of the raspberries!  Luckily I like that cereal anyway so will enjoy it even without the raspberries!

For the Raspberry Meringues:
4 large egg whites
225g white caster sugar
[this makes 21 meringues with the idea that you make 3 different flavours.  I used half of the meringue mixture (with a few extra raspberries in as adapted below) which made as many as I could fit in the oven at one time]
3 tbsp of freeze-dried raspberries (powdered in a pestle & mortar)
pink food colouring paste (I used gel and it worked fine)

For the Basil Cream:
10 basil leaves
100g icing sugar
400ml double cream

Heat the oven to 140oC/120oC fan and line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment.

Set up your piping bag, snipping off the end and inserting a large round piping nozzle (I didn't have one so used a star shape), use a wet paintbrush (or, if like me, you don't have one, a chopstick) to paint lines of undiluted food colouring along the inside of the bag.  Be quite generous so you get nice bold colours.

Tip the egg whites into a large mixing bowl or table-top mixer - make sure it's grease free before you start (a tip from my friend Vikki - wipe it with some lemon juice to cut through any grease before you start - just dry it with kitchen roll).  Whisk the eggs with an electric mixer or in your mixer until they hold soft peaks.  Begin adding the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking continuously until you have a thick and glossy meringue which will hold up in a stiff peak on the end of the whisk.

Divide the meringue into 2 bowls (or 3 if you want to make 3 different flavours - the other one I made was lemon by adding finely grated lemon zest and green paste colouring as only had liquid yellow colouring) and swirl through the raspberry dust.  You want to achieve a marbled effect rather than thoroughly mixing it all in.

Put the piping bag into a tall glass or jug and fold over the edge.  Fill the bag with meringue, lift up and twist the end to seal.  Hold the piping bag about 2cm vertically above the baking tray and apply an even pressure, slowly lifting the bag as you squeeze to make a round meringue about 6cm in diameter.  To finish with a nice peak at the top, push down a little on the mixture then pull the nozzle away quickly.  (I had varied results as you can see - I tried 2 techniques and either got massive peaks or pathetic ones but I kinda liked both.)

Continue until the mixture is all used up, leaving enough room for the meringues to spread a little.  Bake for 30 minutes, then turn down the heat to 120oC/100oC fan for another 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool.

For the cream - Put 10 basil leaves into a small food processor with the icing sugar and blitz to a powder.

Whisk the double cream until it just holds its shape, add the basil sugar and briefly whisk again until just combined.  (You'd think I would have learned by now after making this mistake multiple times but when whipping cream in a mixer - never leave it!  I managed to over-whip the cream while I packed the meringues ready to take to baking club as I was running so late!  Oops.  It still tasted good though!)

Chill until ready to serve.

With the lemon meringues I planned to make the passion fruit cream - whisk 400ml double cream with 2 tbsp icing sugar until it just holds its shape, swirl through the pulp and seeds of 3 passion fruits and chill until ready to serve.  I never actually had time to make the other flavour though but I definitely will at some point.

The meringues turned out really well, I was very pleased with my first attempt - they were light yet slightly chewy in the centre, just how I like them!  The flavour combination with the basil cream was also very good, despite being a little dubious I really enjoyed it!

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