I realize this is verrrry last-minute, but perhaps there are a few among you who have not yet decided on your Christmas dessert or who are still planning your New Year's Eve dinner or just plain want to have your socks knocked off by a dessert. Yes? Yes?
Getting right down to brass tacks, because none of us have any time at all right now (amirite?): Yotam Ottolenghi's meringue roulade from his latest book Plenty More. Imagine: a base of vanilla-flavored meringue - with cornstarch and vinegar mixed into so that it stays marshmallowy and rollable after baking instead of crisp and crackling - spread with whipped cream and fruit, then rolled up and topped with more whipped cream and fruit plus powdered sugar to make it look all festive and wintry and perfect.
To put it bluntly: It's so good that it literally rendered an entire table of people at our Christmas Eve dinner last night entirely speechless.
The original version has you flavor the whipped cream with rose water and top the roulade with chopped pistachios in addition to raspberries, but I don't like rose water, so I left it out and then left out the pistachios too and it was still divine. (The whipped cream is mixed with mascarpone for some extra flavor and ballast.) You could do any number of combinations - I keep thinking that pomegranate seeds would be fantastic in it.
The roulade is just the right thing after a heavy holiday meal - all sweetness and light with little pops of fruit here and there and the cooling smoothness of cold cream. (Though the next time I make it, I will reduce the sugar just a touch. The recipe below reflects that change.)
Have a wonderful, delicious and peaceful holiday season, darling readers. I am, as ever, so grateful to have you all in my life.
Yotam Ottolenghi's Raspberry Meringue Roulade
Adapted from Plenty MoreServes 8-10
4 egg whites
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3.5 ounces/100 grams mascarpone
1 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 cups/400 ml whipping cream
5 ounces/150 grams fresh raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to firm up. Add the granulated sugar to the whisking whites in spoonfuls or tip into the bowl in a slow stream. Continue whisking until you achieve a firm, glossy meringue. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornstarch. Spread the mixture evenly onto the parchment paper, making a 13x9.5-inch/33x24-cm rectangle.
3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until a crust forms and the meringue is cooked through (it will still feel soft to the touch). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
4. Unmold the cooled meringue on a fresh piece of parchment paper. Carefully peel off the first piece of parchment.
5. Place the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl along with the confectioners' sugar. Whisk to combine, then add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream starts to hold its shape. Don't overmix - you want a relatively loose whipped cream. Spread most of the mascarpone cream on top of the meringue, reserving a few tablespoons. Leave a small border around the edge of the meringue. Scatter most of the raspberries all over the cream
6. Use the paper to assist you in rolling up the meringue along its long edge, until you get a perfect log shape. Carefully transfer the log on to a serving dish. Use the remaining cream to create a rough wavy strip along the top of the log. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
7. When ready to serve, dust the log with confectioners' sugar and dot with the remaining raspberries.