Some people say – and several of them are from my family – that the best things in life are the simple ones. As much as I hate agreeing with my grandmother – and she knows that – this orange cream is a good example: ridiculously simple, but it has got to be one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. In 31 years of existence. :)
The original recipe called for fresh cranberries, but I can’t get hold of them here in Brazil – the wonderful, plump dried cherries I got from a lovely friend replaced them beautifully.
Mini meringues with boozy cherries and orange cream
adapted from Delicious magazine
400g caster sugar
200g (about 5 large) free-range egg whites
about ½ cup (72g) dried cherries*
3 tablespoons vodka
40g caster sugar
600ml heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons orange flower water, to taste
Handful unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped
Preheat the oven to 220°C/428°F. Spread the sugar evenly over a shallow baking tray, lined with baking paper, and place in the oven for about 10 minutes until really hot.
Place the egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on high speed until the whites begin to froth, then gradually pour in the hot sugar. Continue whisking on a high speed for 10 minutes until the meringue is beautifully silky and holds its shape.
Reduce the temperature to 110°C/230°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper - stick the baking paper to the baking sheets with a little meringue.
Fill a piping bag with the meringue and pipe golf ball-size rounds on to the baking sheet – I used two small spoons to shape the meringues and made them a little bigger. Have a bowl of water nearby; dip a teaspoon in the water and use the back of it to create a nest shape. Repeat, spaced apart – you should get about 60 mini meringues.
Bake the mini meringues for 1 hour, or until crisp to touch. Turn off the oven and leave inside to cool completely.
Gently heat the cherries, vodka and caster sugar in a small pan for 3-5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries plump up a bit. Cool a little. In a bowl, whip the cream, icing sugar and orange flower water, to taste, to soft peaks.
To assemble: place the meringues on serving plates, and spoon a small dollop of orange cream onto each one. Spoon a boozy cherry and a little syrup over the top, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
* the amount of cherries will depend on the number of meringues you end up with, since there has to be one cherry to top each mini pavlova
Makes 60 – I made ¼ of the recipe above, used two spoons to shape the meringues (instead of a piping bag) and got 8 mini pavlovas