A long time friend from country New South Wales gave me some duck eggs a while ago and it was the first time I had ever cooked with them. I knew that duck eggs made for beautiful sponge cakes, and I'd read that they were excellent for making any kind of meringue. Time to roll up my sleeves and try my hand at Yotam Ottolenghi's exquisite meringue roulade.
In October last year, Peter and I attended a literary lunch at Nomad in Surry Hills. The star of the event, other than Mr Ottolenghi himself, was a pretty meringue roulade filled with rose water mascarpone and dotted with pistachios, rose petals and plump raspberries. Not only was it a special-looking dessert, it tasted absolutely divine. Having made this sweet a few times over, my sous chef and OIC of Tasting, Peter, tells me that it is his NUMBER ONE favourite. I could almost agree.
The recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi's Plenty More. I've reduced the quantity of caster sugar, increased the mascarpone (note, I use my homemade mascarpone and home grown strawberries), and decreased the amount of plain cream. You can use raspberries, strawberries or any other of your favourite berries, methinks. The roulade is perfect for any festive occasion and will keep well if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.
MERINGUE ROULADE WITH FRESH BERRIES, PISTACHIOS & ROSE PETALS
4 free-range egg whites (about 120g) - use duck or hen's eggs
200g vanilla-infused caster sugar
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon maize cornflour
For the rose water cream:
1 tablespoon pure icing sugar, and a little extra for dusting
1 tablespoon rose water
100ml thickened cream
For the filling and decoration:
150g fresh berries, washed, hulled, sliced if large
2 tablespoons dried rose petals or baby rose buds*
1 teaspoon chopped or slivered pistachios
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Line the base and sides of a 33cm x 24 cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Use a sheet of paper slightly larger than the tin, as this will help with the rolling.
In a large Pyrex bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, followed by the white wine vinegar and the cornflour, and continue with the whisking until the mixture is a firm, shiny meringue.
Using a palette knife, spread the mixture neatly and evenly into the prepared tin and smooth over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a crust has formed and the meringue is cooked through. Note, it should still feel soft when you touch it gently. Remove the tin from the oven and allow the meringue to cool in the tin.
Meanwhile, spoon the mascarpone into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, then add the icing sugar and rose water. Whisk or beat until combined, then pour in the cream. Continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Take care not to over beat.
Place a fresh sheet of parchment paper a work surface and, working carefully, tip the cool meringue onto the paper. Gently peel away the paper that you baked it on. Now, spread three-quarters of the rosewater cream evenly over the underside of the meringue, leaving about 1-2cms clear around the edges. Scatter half the berries and half the rose petals over the cream.
Working with the baking paper, roll the meringue along the long edge into a roulade. Taking care, transfer the roulade to a serving platter. Spread the remaining rosewater cream over the top of the roulade. Unless you are ready to serve immediately, refrigerate the roulade for about half an hour
Finally, sprinkle the rest of the berries and rose petals over the top. Finish with pistachios and dust with icing sugar. The roulade will serve eight. Preparation time about 30 minutes. Cooking time around 30 minutes.
* Available from The Essential Ingredient and also Herbie's Spices.
Tell me dear friends, have you ever cooked with duck eggs? Are you prepared for Christmas? Do you enjoy meringue? And what sweet things will be on your table this festive season?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.