meringue

grapefruit vanilla bean trifle

Image: Olaiya Land

In the dreary days of February, my mind turns to spring dreams. Green grass and tiny daffodils elbowing their way up through the soil. The season's first asparagus stalks and baby morels. Raspberries. Strawberries. Apricots! Easter hams and rhubarb pies.

All of which leaves me feeling rather let down when I come back down to Earth and remember we’re still sailing through the mid-winter doldrums.

Image: Olaiya Land

This is a time of year that requires extra creativity in the kitchen. The novelty of autumn’s bounty of apples, pears and squash is long gone. Tender spring things are still weeks away. And Kale, popular and Instagram-friendly as it is, can only take you so far.

Luckily, this is the month we are given citrus.

Image: Olaiya Land

Jewel-toned citrus in all its shapes and forms is the answer to the culinary blues. Bright and subtly floral, it’s the winter ingredient that tricks our palettes into thinking spring is nearly here. 

Sweet-tart grapefruit is my very favorite member of the citrus family. It's annual appearance at the grocery store never fails to brighten my day. Sort of like a beloved uncle who comes around once a year with bad jokes and pocketfulls of candy. 

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

It’s difficult to improve upon a perfectly ripe grapefruit section scooped straight from the rind. But as I looked around our kitchen at the mounting piles of grapefruit, I decided it was time to kick things up a notch and transform my winter citrus bounty into something a touch more fancified. 

Which leads us to this Grapefruit Vanilla Bean Trifle. It’s a delicious pile of controlled chaos--towering layers of cake, cream, meringue and citrus that collapse into a fluffy, creamy mess when you scoop them into your bowl. This is the sort of dessert that will help you shake off a winter funk. The sort of dish that will make you forget winter all together.

At least until you reach the bottom of the trifle dish.

Image: Olaiya Land

Grapefruit Vanilla Bean Trifle

  • 5 large, ripe grapefruit (I used a mix of red, pink, gold and white grapefruit)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 recipe Grapefruit Curd, chilled (see below)
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Bean Meringues (see below)
  • 1 recipe Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake, cooled completely (see below)


*Note: This trifle is most beautiful right after you assemble it, before the citrus can release any juices. But it is about a gazillion times more delicious the next day. I recommend you make this a day in advance and store it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Leave off the last layer of meringue crumbles until right before you serve it so they stay crunchy.

- Almost all the components of this trifle can be made in advance. The cake can be baked up to 2 days in advance. The curd can be made up to a week in advance. The merengues can be baked a week or more in advance if you bake them fairly dry and store them in an airtight container. 

Image: Olaiya Land

Remove the skin and pith from the grapefruit. Cut the flesh into supremes over a medium bowl so you catch all the juices. (Here’s a video on how to do it.) Set aside.

Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer along with the sugar and beat to stiff peaks using the whisk attachment. (You can also use a hand beater or a wire whisk and a mixing bowl.) Take care not to over beat the cream--you want it stiff, but not grainy. Gently fold the chilled grapefruit curd into the whipped cream until only a few faint streaks of yellow remain. 

Cut the cooled cake into roughly 1-inch pieces. Arrange the cake pieces in the bottom of a trifle dish or large bowl in a tight layer. Depending on the size of your dish, you may not use all the cake pieces. You can freeze them for another use, or--my favorite option--snack on them alongside your afternoon cup of coffee or tea. 

Spread half the grapefruit cream mixture over the cake. Arrange half the grapefruit sections over the cream. (Take care to lift them from their juices with your fingers or a slotted spoon so the trifle isn’t too wet.) Crumble a layer of meringue pieces over the grapefruit. Spread the rest of the grapefruit cream over the meringue and top with the rest of the grapefruit sections. Crumble additional pieces of meringue over the trifle just before serving.

Serves 8-10.


Grapefruit Curd

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest (from 1 large grapefruit--grate an additional 2 teaspoons zest for the olive oil cake, below)
  • ¾ cup freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice 
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs 
  • 4 large yolks (save the yolks from your meringues for this)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces


Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the juices, zest, sugar, eggs and salt  in a medium heavy saucepan. Whisk well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often with a heatproof spatula, until just warm to the touch. Add 1 piece of the butter and cook, stirring constantly with the spatula to prevent scorching, until the butter is almost melted. Repeat with the remaining 9 pieces of butter. 

Continue to cook, stirring often until the curd has thickened and is beginning to bubble, about 1 minute longer. 

Strain the curd into the bowl and discard the zest and any bits of cooked egg. Cool for 15 minutes then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill in the refrigerator until very cold, at least 4 hours.

The curd will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.

Makes about 3 cups.


Vanilla Bean Meringues

  • 9 oz superfine sugar (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 vanilla bean (I used a Tahitian vanilla bean since they are beautifully floral)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 oz egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)--reserve the yolks for curd
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar


Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 250° F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Place the sugar in a small bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. Add the vanilla seeds to the bowl with the sugar. Using your fingers, rub the seeds into the sugar; this will keep the vanilla from clumping together in the meringues. Add the cornstarch and salt. Whisk to combine and break up any clumps.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes.

Increase the speed a little and slowly sprinkle in the sugar mixture. It should take you about a minute or more; adding the sugar too quickly or before the eggs form soft peaks will result in a less stable meringue that might spread or weep. A minute or so after all of the sugar mixture has been added, add the vinegar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until the meringue forms very stiff peaks, 5-8 minutes longer. You will know the meringue is stiff enough when it will hold the whisk attachment perfectly upright with no other support.  

Spoon the meringue into 6 heaping mounds, each about 4 inches wide on the parchment-lined sheet pan (be sure they aren’t touching). If you want drier, crunchier meringues, use the back of a spoon to flatten each meringue a bit so they are thinner. If you like more marshmallowy meringues, leave them as fluffy mounds.

Bake the meringues until they are crisp and dry to the touch on the outside but still white (not golden or cracked), about 80-90 minutes for flat meringues and about 2 hours for thick ones. Check on the meringues periodically to make sure they aren’t coloring or cracking. If they are, rotate the sheet pan and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

When the meringues are done, turn off the oven and let the meringues cool completely in the oven. If you're not using them right away, store the cooled meringues in a tightly sealed container (I like a large mason jar). They will keep for a week or two, depending on how dry they are cooked, in a well-sealed container.

Makes 6 large meringues.
 


Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
Adapted slightly from Yossy Arefi

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (225g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) fruity olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole-milk kefir or buttermilk, at room temperature (I used kefir)


Follow this recipe, omitting the rosemary and substituting 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest for the lemon zest.



apricot-pistachio ice cream eton mess

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Whew! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. As soon as I touched down from my last Paris retreat, I set to work finalizing the details for fall retreats in Portugal and Paris and began promoting them. Which was aaaaaaalot more work than I imagined.

One thing I like about being self-employed is that it never gets boring. I am chief recipe creator, photographer, writer, editor, public relations agent, website developer and travel guru. Now that I’m leading more retreats abroad--and want to ensure they sell out--I am also head of marketing. Which is pretty funny since I know close to nothing about marketing!

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

But I believe in my retreats. 

My guests tell me stories of major life shifts resulting from their time abroad with me. Decisions to go for that job. Step out of an unhealthy relationship. Stop working a gazillion hours a week and spend more time with family. Start dating again. Prioritize themselves in new ways.

I, too, arrive home after each retreat feeling energized--excited about my life and ready to imagine new projects into reality.

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

All of this makes the work that goes into planning each trip 110% worthwhile. Even though I know very little about marketing (at least in the traditional sense), it leaves me determined to get the word out about my retreats to the best of my ability.

Which brings me back to the last few weeks and the megaton of hours I’ve sunk into writing about Paris and Portugal. Meeting with collaborators. Editing images. Posting to Instagram and Facebook. Asking friends to spread the word, despite how uncomfortable I find it to ask for help. And researching how to promote my tours without feeling inauthentic or overly pushy.

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

I’m way outside my comfort zone. And my life is something of a mess. I just noticed there’s some sort of mystery substance peeking out from under my stove. The garden needs watering and the lawn needs mowed. There is a mountain of unpacked boxes in the garage from our move. Yesterday, I discovered a pile of unpaid bills hiding under about a dozen unread magazines. The dust bunnies that occasionally tumble out from under the couch are frightening.

But it’s all ok. It wouldn’t have been in the past. I’d have been kicking myself up one side and down the other for letting my life feel so out of control. But somehow, I’ve decided that I’m ok with all of this and that it will be just fine. I’ve even carved our time for my own pleasure in the midst of all this chaos. I saw a movie on a weekday morning. I went for a walk with my friend, Rachael. I tried a few new recipes. I sat in the backyard and drank rosé with Beau. I finished a novel

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

So even though my life feels like a mess, I’ve decided it’s a beautiful mess.

In honor of which, I give you this Apricot-Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess. It’s got homemade pistachio ice cream and tart apricot sorbet. Crisp orange blossom meringues. Honeyed apricots and clouds of whipped sweet cream. This is my kind of dessert: Made with love. Messy. And wonderful.


Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Apricot-Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess

  • 8 oz. firm-ripe apricots, each pitted and sliced into sixths or eighths
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 recipe Orange Blossom Meringues (see below)
  • 1 recipe Pistachio Ice Cream (see below)
  • 1 recipe Apricot Sorbet (see below)
  • A few small fresh herb leaves and/or flowers, such as mint, basil, thyme, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, etc. (I used lemon balm)

*Note: The best thing about this Eton mess (besides how delicious it is!) is that you can make all the components from scratch or you can buy the ice cream, sorbet and meringues pre-made. It's like an edible choose-your-own-adventure! 

- If you need a little help organizing your prep, I recommend you make the ice cream and sorbet 2-3 days in advance. Make the meringues and honeyed apricots 1-2 days in advance. Whip the cream an hour or two before serving and store it in the fridge. Then pull the ice cream and sorbet 10-20 minutes before you assemble everything to make sure they are easily scoopable.

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Place the apricots in a large nonreactive saucepan along with the honey and water. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat then cook until just soft. (You can cook the apricots longer if you prefer them to be more of a sauce.) Remove from the heat, stir in lemon juice to taste and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. (I don’t sweeten it because the meringue is pretty sweet, but you can sweeten to taste with honey or sugar if you like. If you go this route, add your sweetener to the cream before you whip it.)

To assemble: Break 3 or 4 of the meringues into large pieces and spread them over a large serving platter. Arrange scoops of  the pistachio ice cream and apricot sorbet over the meringues. Dollop the whipped cream over the ice cream. Spoon the honeyed apricots over the cream and scatter the herbs over the top. Serve immediately.

Makes 6-8 servings. And you’ll have some ice cream, sorbet and meringue left over. (Score!)


Orange Blossom Meringues

  • 9 oz superfine sugar (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 oz egg whites (from about 5 large eggs), room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons orange blossom water

*Note: For my full list of tips on working with egg whites, click here then scroll down to the recipe section.

- Orange blossom water varies in strength. Start with one teaspoon and see how your merengue tastes. Add more orange blossom water if desired. (I used two teaspoons of Noirot brand orange blossom water.)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 225° F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Place the sugar in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch and salt. Whisk to combine and break up any clumps. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes.

Increase the speed a little and slowly sprinkle in the sugar mixture. It should take you about a minute; adding the sugar too quickly or before the eggs form soft peaks will result in a less stable meringue that might spread or weep. A minute or so after all of the sugar mixture has been added, add the vinegar and orange blossom water. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until the meringue forms very stiff peaks, 5-8 minutes longer. You will know the meringue is stiff enough when it will hold the whisk attachment perfectly upright with no other support. 

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Spoon the meringue into 6 heaping mounds, each about 4 inches wide on the parchment-lined sheet pan (be sure they aren’t touching). Use the back of a spoon to flatten them a little so they cook more evenly.

Bake the meringues until they are crisp and dry to the touch on the outside but still white (not golden or cracked), 90-120 minutes. Check on the meringues periodically to make sure they aren’t coloring or cracking. If they are, rotate the sheet pan and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside to dry out. When the oven is completely cool, remove the meringues. If you're not using them immediately, transfer them to an airtight container. The meringues will keep, tightly sealed, for up to a week if you have baked them fairly dry.

Makes 6 large meringues.


Apricot Sorbet

  • 2 lbs. very ripe fresh apricots 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 drops almond or vanilla extract (I used almond)


*Note: This makes a full-flavored but very tart sorbet, which is perfect against the sweet meringues and creamy pistachio ice cream in this Eton mess. If you want a sweeter sorbet, you might add a touch more sugar.

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Split the apricots in half, remove the pits, and cut each half into thirds. Combine the apricot wedges and water in a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Once cool, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste a spoonful and if there are any small fibers, press the puree through a mesh strainer. Stir in the almond or vanilla extract. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

 


Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

Pistachio Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, finely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the pistachios, almond extract and salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold. Cover and transfer to the fridge to chill completely, 4-6 hours or overnight. Alternately, place the mixture in a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag partially then squeeze out as much air as possible as you lower the bag into the ice water. Seal completely and chill until quite cold, at least 30 minutes. (The increased surface area allows the ice cream base to chill much more quickly. I learned this tip from Jeni Britton-Bauer—the author of this recipe—and use it for all my ice cream.)

Strain the ice cream base if desired, pressing the pistachios with the back of a spoon to extract all the flavor. (I like the flecks of pistachio in my ice cream, so didn’t strain it.) Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a freezer-safe container. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the pistachio ice cream until firm, about 4 hours before scooping. 

Makes about 1 quart.

Recipe by Jeni Britton-Bauer

Apricot Pistachio Ice Cream Eton Mess on millys-kitchen.com

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

I am not a baker at heart. I like to improvise as I’m cooking and don’t have the love of precision and order that all great pastry chefs have. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the art and science of pastry-making (especially the science part) and now consider myself a tolerably good baker. I can make a very solid pie crust. I understand what makes a cookie crisp versus chewy. I can temper chocolate well enough to make all sorts of bark at the holidays.

My white whale, however, has always been meringue. 

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

I am not easily intimidated in the kitchen and will give almost any culinary effort my best shot. But I have had some really disastrous run-ins with meringue. There was one year I made hundreds upon hundreds of Alice Medrich’s Peanut Butter Clouds for a Homemade Holiday Gifts class I was teaching. These are a very basic meringue cookie, flavored with peanut butter and topped with toasted sesame. They taste AMAZING. The only problem is that if you don’t really know how meringue works, some of your clouds will come out looking gorgeous and fluffy and very, well, cloud-like, and some of your clouds will end up looking like a blob of marshmallow fluff somebody spilled on the floor. I ended up eating a lot of rejected Peanut Butter Clouds and having to make many extra batches to compensate. Not fun.

Then there was the Grand Marnier soufflé with salted caramel I became obsessed with after a trip to Paris. I spent hour upon hour in the kitchen trying to perfect a fail-safe soufflé base I could teach in a cooking class and never felt my recipe was 100% beyond reproach.

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

The tipping point came last December when I was working on a recipe for dark chocolate chestnut meringues to give as Christmas gifts. The flavor was fantastic: rich, dark chocolate melding with earthy-sweet chestnut. All that deliciousness clearly deserved to be enshrined in a perfectly-crisp-on-the-outside, meltingly-fluffy-on-the-inside meringue. And it was not happening. At all. Some of my efforts came out of the oven as gorgeous as I’d hoped. Others slumped and spread into sad puddles.

It was clearly time to step up my meringue game. So I delved into the science. I read everything I could find about egg whites and the mysterious alchemy of a successful meringue. I learned a lot. (For all you meringue-lovers and food-science geeks, you’ll find my definitive list of tips for working with egg whites below.) And I'm happy to say that after my research, those meringues turned out to be some of the most beautiful I'd ever made.

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

If you’ve ever been intimidated by meringue, allow me to help you conquer your egg white anxiety with these Pine Nut Meringues. The combination of sweet meringue and toasty pine nuts reminds me of my favorite French nougat. They’re delicious as-is, barely cool, right off the baking sheet, and spectacular topped with a mound of whipped cream and a swirl of summer berry compote. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

Read on and you’ll be coaxing a few egg whites and some sugar into ethereal mounds of fluff in no time. If I, impatient, improvisational cook that I am, can learn to make a glorious meringue, you undoubtedly can, too.


pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

How to Work Magic with Egg Whites and Sugar

  • Fat is the enemy. A little fat left in a bowl or on your hands, can wreak havoc on your meringue. Make sure everything (your bowls, beater, hands) is clean, clean, CLEAN. Also, use the three bowl method of separating your eggs to make sure no yolks get into your whites.
  • Start with room temperature eggs. It's easier for the sugar to dissolve into room temperature eggs. If all you have is cold eggs, beat them at a low speed for a minute or two to warm them up.
  • Eggs are easier to separate when they're cold. I recommend separating your whites then covering them with plastic wrap and setting them aside to warm up.
  • Fresh eggs have a more acidic pH and a tighter protein structure, which leads to a more stable meringue. Older eggs will work, too, but if you have a choice, fresher is better.
  • The small granules of superfine sugar mean they dissolve into your egg whites more quickly and evenly. I sometimes cheat and use a high-quality granulated white sugar, but I never use my regular unbleached cane sugar for meringues.
  • How and when you add the sugar to your eggs is very important. If you add the sugar too early, the protein matrix that gives your meringue structure can't form properly. If you add it too late, the sugar won't dissolve completely and your meringues will be gritty. The key is to start adding the sugar right after the whites come to very soft peaks and to add it slowly. It should take about a minute to incorporate the sugar into the eggs. Don't rush it.
  • You can further stabilize your meringue with acid. In this recipe we're using vinegar, but you can use cream of tartar (tartaric acid) or even lemon juice.
  • A little cornstarch goes one step further in stabilizing your meringue and making sure it doesn't weep in the oven.
  • I couldn't find any hard science on this one, but kitchen wisdom dictates you not attempt meringue on a rainy or especially humid day. The air you whip into your whites will be heavy with water and won't whip up as light and fluffy.
pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

Pine Nut Meringue Pavlovas

  • 9 oz superfine sugar (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 oz egg whites (from about 5 large eggs), room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1 ½ cups cream
  • 1 recipe blackberry compote (see below), cooled to room temperature

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 250° F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Place the sugar in a small bowl. Split the half vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. Add the vanilla seeds to the bowl with the sugar. Using your fingers, rub the seeds into the sugar; this will keep the vanilla from clumping together in the meringues. Add the cornstarch and salt. Whisk to combine and break up any clumps.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes.

Increase the speed a little and slowly sprinkle in the sugar mixture. It should take you about a minute; adding the sugar too quickly or before the eggs form soft peaks will result in a less stable meringue that might spread or weep. A minute or so after all of the sugar mixture has been added, add the vinegar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until the meringue forms very stiff peaks, 5-8 minutes longer. You will know the meringue is stiff enough when it will hold the whisk attachment perfectly upright with no other support. Gently fold in the pine nuts.

Spoon the meringue into 6 heaping mounds, each about 4 inches wide on the parchment-lined sheet pan (be sure they aren’t touching). If you're making the meringues for pavlovas, use the back of a spoon to make an indentation in the middle of each meringue for the filling.

Bake the meringues until they are crisp and dry to the touch on the outside but still white (not golden or cracked), about 80 minutes. Check on the meringues periodically to make sure they aren’t coloring or cracking. If they are, rotate the sheet pan and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

When the meringues are done, let them cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet pan then carefully lift them from the parchment and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling. The meringues will keep, tightly sealed for up to a week if you have baked them fairly dry.

While the meringues are cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks. You can add a little sugar if you want, but keep in mind that the meringues are pretty sweet.

When the meringues are cool, serve topped with a generous amount of whipped cream and blackberry compote.

Makes 6 large meringues.

 

Blackberry Compote    

  • 10 ounces (approximately 1 pint) blackberries                 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste     
  • 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • Salt, to taste                     
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest     
  • Lemon juice, to taste


Place the blackberries, sugar, 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until some of the berries burst and release their juices, about 5 minutes. You may need to smash some of the berries to coax them into releasing their juices. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and add the remaining tablespoon of water. Stir to make a slurry and add it to the blackberry mixture. Cook for 1 minute more over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Add lemon juice to taste; you may not need any if your berries are tart.

Can be eaten warm or cold.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.
                          

pine nut meringue pavlovas with blackberry compote // millys-kitchen.com

Recipe adapted from Brandi Henderson