Okay, it’s true… I’m just a little bit obsessed with meringue. Whether it’s for pavlova, macarons or baked alaska, I just love the process of whipping up egg whites and watching them transform into billowing clouds of light-as-air sweetness before my eyes. And, yes… licking the meringue mix from the beaters afterwards is a guilty pleasure, I must confess.
But, there’s another reason why I make more than my fair share of meringue-based goodies. I find myself in a never-ending cycle of needing to use up left-over egg whites. I’ve got so many of them from all those egg yolk-based custards and ice creams I make that I’ve resorted to freezing them in small sandwich bags. It’s darned handy actually… I write on each bag how many egg whites are inside, then simply defrost the appropriate number of whites as and when needed.
This particular recipe came about after I spotted a rather scrumptious meringue roulade with blackberries and lemon curd in one of my favourite cafes. With blackberries in season right now, I grabbed the opportunity to try it myself.
I based the recipe on Mary Berry’s lemon meringue roulade, but digressed when it came to the filling, keeping the curd and cream separate to create a bit of colour contrast, and adding the fruit into the filling rather than serving alongside. And, while I intended adding the blackberries in whole, I discovered they were excessively tart so decided last minute to make a sweetened compote instead.
And, may I just say, wowsers! How could it not be, with its combination of meringue – crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle in classic pavlova style, home-made lemon curd (thanks to a great one cup recipe from Christine Gallary at Chowhound), softly whipped cream and a vanilla/blackberry compote. It’s most assuredly not for those on a diet, but hey, some things are just worth the extra calories, don’t you think?!
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup finely grated, loosely packed lemon zest
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
- 86g (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
- 500g (17.6 oz) fresh blackberries
- 2-3 tablespoons honey, to taste
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds scraped and reserved
- 5 large egg whites
- 275g (9.7 oz) caster sugar
- 50g (1.7 oz) flaked almonds (I only used about half)
- Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
- 400ml (13.5 fl oz) double or whipping cream
- 1/2-1cup lemon curd (see recipe above) - I used a whole cup
- Fill a medium saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer over high heat; reduce the heat to low and keep the water at a bare simmer.
- Place all of the ingredients except the butter in a large heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the simmering water and whisk constantly until the yolks thicken and the mixture forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted from the bowl, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whisk in the butter one piece at a time, waiting until each piece is completely melted and incorporated before adding another.
- Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the curd into the bowl; discard the solids left in the strainer.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set and chilled, at least 3 hours. (The curd can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days ahead.)
- Put the blackberries, honey and vanilla pod and seeds into a medium sized saucepan over a low heat.
- Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the berries have released their juices and softened, but still hold their shape.
- Remove from heat and pour the berries and juices into a strainer set over a bowl.
- Once the excess syrup has drained off, spoon the berries into a dish or container and put into the fridge to chill until needed. You can retain the syrupy liquid to serve with the pavlova roll or freeze it for another use.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).** Grease and line a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13 inch) Swiss roll tin (lamington or jelly roll tin) with baking paper.
- In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk on medium speed until soft peak stage. Turn the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, beating well between each addition. Continue whisking until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is extremely stiff and glossy.
- Spread the meringue mixture evenly over the base of the tin and sprinkle over the almonds.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden (it may puff up in places), then lower the temperature to 160°C (320°F) and bake for a further 20 minutes until crisp on top (it will be cracked, which is totally normal).
- Remove the meringue from the oven and turn it out, almond-side-down, on to a sheet of nonstick baking paper. Peel off the baking paper and leave the meringue to cool.
- Lightly whip the cream (it should be soft rather than stiff).
- Using an off-set spatula, spread the lemon curd evenly over the cooled meringue, then spoon the cream over top (leave a border of 1-2 inches at each end, as the filling will spread as you roll it). Scatter the softened blackberries over top.
- Using the baking paper as a guide, roll up the meringue from one of the shorter sides to form a roll and place it seam side down on a serving platter. Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar, if you like.
- Store any left-overs in the fridge. I had a slice the following day and it was still very good and the top remained crisp.
**Setting the oven at this high temperature before reducing it ensures a very crisp flaky exterior, much like the texture of a pavlova. However, my meringue puffed up and 'blew out' in a couple of places due to the high heat. If you're concerned about this with your oven, you could bring the temperature down to an even 180°C (360°F) for the whole cook and bake for about 30 minutes.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting