Alice’s Valentine Meringue Cakes
My lovely friend Alice Lees operates Uprising from a specially designed kitchen in her house in the suburbs. Check out her blog to follow her progress as she conjures up the most incredibly tasty-looking sweet treats for local cafes and restaurants. Pear & licorice tart? Lemon brulee? Citrus, thyme & honey tarts? Marshmallows? Yes, yes, yes & yes. And to think that this whole time she’s really an honours student in Silversmithing.
Alice has prepared the most stunning dessert for me to show you and it’s quite obvious that her talent knows no bounds. If there’s one reason why you should completely fall for Valentine’s Day, this is it.
Alice shares her inspiration for this recipe, “My mum occasionally used to make a set sweet cheese and serve it with fresh summer berries around Valentines Day. She had a special heart-shaped dish with perforations in the bottom that allowed the cheese to drain and set firm in the shape of a heart it is called “Coeur de Fromage a la Creme” and I believe it is a traditional French dessert to serve on Valentine’s Day. I wanted to include it as a component of a Valentine’s Day dessert, although it is quite special on its own served with fresh berries. If you use maize cornflour for the sponge this is a gluten free dessert.”
Hold on to your loved ones – this is a gorgeous ride.
Alice’s Valentine Meringue Cakes
Makes approximately 12 individual cakes.
There are four components to each cake; fromage a la crème, sponge cake, elderflower syrup and Italian meringue. You will need to start this recipe a day in advance, starting with the fromage a la crème.
Fromage a la crème
300g full fat ricotta cheese
250g crème fraiche
50g fresh cream (35%fat)
2 tbs organic raw sugar
90g/or 3 egg whites
½ a vanilla bean seeds scraped
Sieve the ricotta cheese. In a separate bowl whip the cream and crème fraiche till they hold stiff peaks and then fold into the sieved ricotta cheese. Begin whisking the egg whites sand gradually pour in the sugar and vanilla bean seeds, until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Then fold the egg whites into the cream and ricotta mixture.
Scoop 55g portions into squares of cheesecloth (I use a ice cream scoop for this) and tie together with and elastic band or a bag clip. Hang in your refrigerator overnight to drain excess water.
75g corn flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
2 large eggs
85g of organic raw caster sugar
1 vanilla bean seeds scraped
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. Combine flour with bicarb and cream of tartar. Separate the eggs and beat egg whites and sugar until they form soft peaks, then beat in egg yolks. Fold in the flour mixture. Spoon mixture into the lined tin and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cake feels springy when touched lightly in centre. Invert cake onto a cake rack and leave to cool completely (overnight is best so it is a bit dry when it is later dipped in the syrup).
75g organic raw sugar
70g elderflower liqueur (I use St Germain brand)
Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a pot stir until the sugar is dissolved completely. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then pour in the liqueur.
360g white sugar
30g liquid glucose
180g or 6 egg whites
In a pot combine sugar, glucose and water bring to the boil over a medium heat. When the mixture begins to boil begin whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer with whisk attachment on low. When the sugar reaches 120°C on a candy thermometer remove from the heat and allow the bubbles to subside (the egg whites should look meringue like by now). Increase the speed to medium and slowly trickle the hot sugar mixture into the eggs while the mixer is running. Continue mixing for about 15min or until the mixture has cooled to about 30-40°C.
Remove the cheese balls from the fridge. Split the sponge cake in half and cut out pieces with a round biscuit cutter slightly larger than your cheese balls. Dip each piece of cake into the warm sugar syrup and arrange on a tray. Put a teaspoon of red jam, such a strawberry, in the centre of the sponge and place a cheese ball on top. Use a pallet knife to spread meringue generously all over each cake and then gently scorch the surface with a gas torch. Place the tray in the fridge until ready to serve. When ready remove each cake from the tray with a lifter from underneath and serve with fresh summer berries.
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