Thursday, July 28, 2011

Frozen Meringues and Berries Dessert

It is hard to let go this recipe as it belongs among my top three desserts--easy, impossibly indulging, and elegant. Probably, it is a dessert that I make most often, particularly as a finale to summer dinner parties. Also, it is a recipe for which my guests most often ask. I love it myself not only because I like meringues and can it them just dry, but also because it is a beautifully looking dessert and, even more importantly, because it can be made a long time ahead and stored for a month or so.

Although it is so simple, it is not easy to guess what is made from, and no one has ever got it one hundred percent right.

The idea for a meringue dessert came to me accidentally one summer, when after a dinner party I was left with some Pavlova reminds. Everyone knows that is not so good on the second day when meringues become soft, and even less attractive in presentation. So I decided to freeze it. The result was not bad but it gave me an idea how to improve it.

I started to experiment with it until one day I decided "that is it". It was perfect. To describe it, I would say that it is a fusion of Pavlova and Vacherin, but frozen. And if you like either, you will be loving this one too. This dessert is sweet but also refreshing because of the fresh fruits and the fruit sauce. Meringues are not overwhelmingly sweet as I add yogurt to cream, and I add no sugar at all, to the cream, just honey which when frozen turns into a delicate caramel-like brittle.

Sometimes to make it even more fancy I add a spoon of liqueur, like Grand Marnier, to it. If I am too lazy to make home-made meringues I buy them at a store; those from Trader Joe's are my favorite. As I mentioned, this dessert can be stored frozen for several weeks, but it needs to be placed in a tightly closed container, as it may catch some freezer aromas. I am having friends over for a grill dinner this weekend and guess what dessert I am going to serve? Of course, frozen meringues, which have been waiting in my freezer since last week.

Frozen Meringues and Berries Dessert
(Serves six)

2 cups vanilla meringues,
1 cup Greek yogurt,
1 cup heavy whipping cream,
1/2 cup running honey,
1 tbsp Grand Marnier,
1 cup raspberries,
1/2 cup fresh blackberries,
1 tbsp sugar.

1. Crush meringues into smaller pieces.

2. Whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff.
3. Put yogurt into a large bowl, add the whipped cream and liqueur, if used, and mix gently.
4. Fold gently the meringues into the yogurt-cream mixture.
5. Drizzle everything with honey and fold it gently in--honey should be mixed cream but still visible, so do not mix it too hard.

6. Transfer everything to a medium-sized plastic container, preferably a big round one or six small ones and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours.
7. To make raspberry coulis, mix half a cup of raspberries with a tbsp of sugar and purée them with a hand blender.

Take the dessert from a freezer 15 minutes before serving. Take it out of the container on a serving plate (if it does not come out easily, dunk the bottom of the container in a hot water for a few seconds), pour the coulis all over it, and decorate with blackberries and raspberries. Cut like a cake and serve.