Rich, decadent yet light and airy- sweet with a bit of tang, and zero refined sugar. Sounds like the ideal dessert! In case you want an idea for a special treat to share with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, or just want a nice any season dessert to share with friends- this might just be a new favourite. It doesn’t have chocolate, but that might be nice for a change. Instead it highlights some lovely, colourful fruit with a combination of creamy and crunchy underneath. It does take a bit of time to complete all the steps, but the recipe itself is much less intimidating than you’d think.
Prep Time: 25 min. + chilling
Cook Time: 45 min. + 3 hrs standing
Makes: 4 servings
2 large egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp maple sugar
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight
1 Tbsp maple syrup/honey (optional)
Decorate with seasonal fruit (clementines, figs, raspberries and blueberries with fresh mint is a nice combination- and the acidity works nicely in contrast with the sweet of the meringue. I had 4 figs, 2 clementines, one ½ pint of raspberries, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 meyer lemon and a handful of mint for all 4.
Meringue is a whipped mixture of sugar and egg whites, that is used to lighten soufflés, mousses, and cake mixtures; to make pie toppings and desserts like baked Alaska and crisp baked meringues. There are three types of meringue; French, Italian and Swiss- with the difference being in when the sugar is added, and therefore the texture that is created. This recipe calls for a firm and slightly dense meringue, so we are creating the french version. All this is relatively unimportant, just remember that the combination of egg whites, sugar and a bit of acidity is used to sculpt desserts up to great heights without the use of flour- and can be made with our kind of sweeteners!
It is also not that intimidating- you only need to do it once successfully to feel like a top chef. What it takes is time, patience, and a clean kitchen. Start by preheating the oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with clean parchment or aluminum foil, shiny side up. Grease is the kryptonite of whipped egg whites, causing them to not fluff, or de-pouf. So, make sure your chilled bowl, spatula, beaters, and parchment is all oil free before starting.
In a large, chilled bowl, combine egg whites, lemon juice, vanilla, apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt. Beat this mixture until soft, foamy peaks form, which will take 3-5 minutes. Unless you are looking for an intense arm workout, this is a case when electric beaters are almost necessary. You need to be beating the eggs quickly so that the air mixes in between the proteins of the egg whites, while they and the bowl are still cold. Gradually add in the maple sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy, which will be another 2 minutes.
Maple sugar is crystalized maple syrup, which is still a very good ‘whole’ sugar in my opinion. It still contains the minerals necessary for the sugar to be broken down without pulling the nutrients from the body. A person completely avoiding anything that will raise their blood sugar may want to substitute a non calorie sweetener here, depending on how they are living WildFit. I would advise that if that is the case that a person just enjoy the cream and fruit, omitting the meringue and taking the extra time to relax.
Once you have the meringue ready, cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag or in a corner of a food-safe plastic bag; and insert a large star tip. Transfer the meringue into the bag with a clean, cool spoon. Pipe meringue into four 3-inch round disks on your parchment paper-lined baking sheet, building up the sides with meringue to form nests. If this step feels way too complicated, you can also gently drop blobs of meringue into a circle, forming them with the spoon, and add one additional blob in the center, joining it with the surrounding sides. Don’t worry about them being too perfect, you are going to cover them in cream and fruit anyway.
Once your artwork is complete, place the meringues gently in the oven and bake them for 2 hours. Then, turn off the heat, and leave the meringues in the oven, with the door closed, until they’re crunchy all the way through. Three hours is long enough, but overnight works best to be sure. Remove the meringues from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Peel them off of the parchment and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Once you are ready to serve them, it is time to decorate them. I think that the meringue is sweet enough and like the coconut cream without additional sweetener- so I just scoop a dollop onto my nests. If you would like it sweeter or want to continue the maple flavour, whip the scooped coconut cream with 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup or honey, then scoop it into nests.
This cream is your base for the colourful, fresh fruit that you will add. Keep it simple or cut shapes into them, whatever suits you. I like adding chopped figs or dates for a bit of extra texture an nuttiness, and always include a citrus for acidity. Remember that fruit digests best on it’s own, so this is not an ideal canvas for melons. I also always like to give it a squeeze of meyer lemon right before serving to help cut through the fat of the cream and encourage good protein digestion.
Simple, sweet, and just fancy enough for that special someone (even if that someone special is you). Enjoy yourself this month and treat yourself well.