#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge – Recipe 45: Meringue Wreath
A lovely festive recipe this month, taken from the BBC Good Food website. I chose this one because when I was invited to join a friend for an unconventional Christmas Day lunch of Beef Wellington (which she cooked beautifully), I offered to take along a dessert. Something other than the traditional Christmas Pudding was preferred so I decided to make a Meringue Wreath. Light, fruity and pretty as well, it fitted the bill perfectly.
Luckily for me, the meringue could happily be baked two to three days ahead which was extremely useful amidst the chaos of Christmas preparations. It was very simple to whisk up the meringue with my electric hand mixer and as I made it up in the evening, I could cook it for its allotted 90 minutes and simply leave it to dry out in the cooling oven overnight. (Apparently this is done because meringues essentially need to dry out rather more than bake so long exposure to low heat is best.) In the morning, I wrapped it in cling film and stashed it safely out of harm’s way (in the spare room!) so that it wouldn’t get broken whilst I was doing lots of other Christmas cooking in the kitchen.
On Christmas Day itself all I had to do was actually decorate the meringue. I simply added a dob of whipped cream to the top of each of the meringue blobs, then peeled and sliced the clementines, sweetened the cranberries slightly by briefly cooking them with some sugar (I did add a little water to the pan as well as I was worried I’d end up with a solid cranberry caramel otherwise), chopped the pistachios and arranged the fruit and nuts onto the cream.
I loved the jewel bright colours of this particular recipe; it really did look like a Christmas wreath. The combination of clementines and cranberries resulted in lovely Christmassy flavours but of course you could substitute any fruit you prefer. Berries would work well too, perhaps with some mint leaves to add a touch of greenery. The one tip I would give you is: don’t make the meringue bigger than any serving plate you own! The fact that I had done this made it rather difficult to transport the wreath to my friend’s house, and also to serve it. At one point I thought I was going to have to serve it on the baking sheet I cooked it on! Fortunately I managed just about to squish it onto a plate without breaking it too much. I had used a standard size plate as the template for the meringue, but of course it spread slightly when it cooked. I realised that what I should have done when spooning the meringue mix onto the baking parchment was to ensure the circle template I was using was at the outside of the meringue blobs, not place the meringue mix on the middle of the line.
If you’re not a fan of Christmas pudding, or want a light dessert to include in a Christmas buffet, this recipe is ideal. Here’s the link in case you want to try it: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/clementine-cranberry-pistachio-meringue-wreath-0
I think it would also be possible to adapt this recipe to make little individual wreaths, but in that case it would probably be best to pipe the meringue in small circles onto the baking sheet, rather than blobbing it on as it would be hard to create a good shape.
Scores for this recipe are:
Healthiness – 6/10 (Meringue contains a lot less calories than most other Christmas desserts, even with the cream on top, and of course there’s the fruit too so you’re getting some of your five a day)
Ease of prep – 9/10 (Perfect for this busy time of year – meringue is not complicated to make and since it can be prepared well in advance and simply topped on the day it’s very easy. Just be careful how big you make it!)
Flavour/taste –10/10 (I really enjoyed this. Lovely and light, tasty festive flavours and it looked brilliant too)
This recipe is definitely a keeper, and may well become a regular feature of my future Christmases.