Gooseberries are in abundance, and certainly in my garden they’re ripe and ready for the picking. Tread with care, the thorns are unforgiving and plentiful.
This is a great time to pick gooseberries, there’s a good mix of the hairy tart green alien looking berries and the rosy pink jewel-like sweet ones. For a good balance choose both; when simmered slowly with sugar the result is a delicate sweet pink hued, pulpy puree with a sharp, tangy flavour unlike any other.
You could simply fold the gooseberry puree through freshly whipped cream and you would have the most delicious, seasonal and fast dessert imaginable, but I like to add a pavlova base to give it that extra sense of height, sweetness, occasion and crunch. Torn mint leaves add a beautiful pop of colour and freshness to the dish.
4 large free range egg whites
1 heaped tsp cornflour
1 tbsp lemon juice
300ml double cream
500g gooseberries washed, topped and tailed
5 tbsp caster sugar
Handful mint leaves
Place gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan with 1 dessert spoonful of water.
Slowly and gently cook until fruit is tender, this varies in time depending on how ripe your gooseberries are. I aim for just disintegrated, I prefer a little texture rather than a full puree, but really that’s up to you. Adjust the sweetness to your taste too. I prefer a level of tartness to the fruit, when combined with meringue the balance is just right.
Once your fruit is cooked, leave to cool. If there’s too much liquid just tip some out.
Preheat the oven to 150c
Place your egg whites in a bowl, and with a hand held electric whisk bring the egg whites to a foamy consistency, add the cornflour, lemon juice and a dessert spoon of sugar and continue whisking.
Keep adding spoons of sugar until you have incorporated it all and you have glossy white firm peaks. You shouldn’t see any bubbles.
Line a baking tray with parchment and create a nest around the size of a small dinner plate with meringue, making sure you have sufficient in the base to be stable enough to transfer once cooked.
Place in the oven for 1 hour then turn off the oven and allow to cool in there with the door closed.
Don’t be tempted to open the door to peek! Allowing the meringue to cool and dry in the oven creates a deliciously dry crunchy texture with a chewy centre.
Once cooled remove the nest, add to a serving plate or cake stand and whip cream to soft peaks.
Gently fold the gooseberry puree through the cream leaving fruity swirls like a raspberry ripple.
Pile up in the centre of the meringue with your creamy fruity mixture and liberally adorn with fresh mint leaves.
Edible flowers like violas or rose petals look beautiful too.
Meringue isn’t particularly keen on being refrigerated so it’s best to just eat the whole thing in one go!
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