French meringue case with berries
( SERVES 12 )
If prepared ahead, store in an airtight container in a cool place. For a step-by-step diagram go to: www.janbilton.co.nz/hints
|9 cups||Berries, fresh not frozen|
- Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup until it reaches the soft-ball stage (115C), about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat quickly if the syrup starts to look sugary.
- Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and beat until stiff peaks form.
- When the syrup has reached the soft-ball stage, turn the electric mixer to top speed. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. When all the syrup has been incorporated, reduce to medium speed. Beat for 10 minutes until the mixture is cold. Reserve ¾ of a cup of the meringue mixture.
- Heat the oven to 80C. To make meringue case, draw 12 equal circles, about 17cm in diameter, on two oven trays lined with baking paper.
- Place the meringue into a large piping bag. Using a plain nozzle, pipe a solid base for the meringue case by making a circle and then filling it in with concentric circles. Pipe single circles on the other marked places. If the trays are not large enough to hold all circles, pipe some double layers of meringue.
- Bake for about 2 hours until the circles have dried out and are crisp. Keep the reserved mixture in a cool place — this will cement the circles together to make the case.
- Place the baked circles on top of the solid base, using a little uncooked meringue to help them stick in place. Cover the inside with meringue. Bake again at a similar temperature for another 2 hours. Cool, before filling with berries.
- To serve the cake, prise off each circle, one per person. Cut double ones in half.