As Summer fades I’m making the most of the final glut of sunshine-ripened fruits. The humble blackcurrant has to be the most pungent and deeply hued of British Summer berries; recent research shows they’re even more antioxidant-rich than other dark fruits, filled with Vitamin C and other minerals. Their richly tart flavour is what makes them so distinctive, but beneath this, layers of aromatic and almost spicy notes come through – especially when paired with a sweet accompaniment. Here, sharp puree is swirled into ultra-sweet meringues, sandwiched with whipped cream for a delicious late-Summer pud. To make them, you will need:
About 25g icing sugar
A little sunflower oil
2 medium egg whites
100g caster sugar
125ml double cream
Put the blackcurrants in a pan with 25ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, until you have a soft, pulpy mixture.
Rub through a sieve to remove the skins and pips, and sift in around 25g icing sugar and stir to dissolve while the mixture is still warm. Taste and add more icing sugar if you think it needs it: you want it to be pleasantly sharp to cut through the sweet meringue. Leave to cool completely.
Heat the oven to 120C/ 250F/ Gas 1/2. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking parchment and brush lightly with sunflower oil (fruity meringues are stickier than standard ones). Beat the egg whites until white and firm.
Keep beating, adding the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Stop when all the sugar is incorporated and you have a thick, glossy meringue in stiff peaks.
Add three tablespoons of the blackcurrant puree to the mix, gently swirling it through to create a streaky, marbled mixture.
Spoon the meringue on to the tray in eight equal blobs, trying to keep them round in shape and roughly the same size (tricky as it’s very sticky – but you want them to look homemade!).
Bake for an hour and a half, remove and leave to cool completely. Don’t worry if the puree goes a brownish pink, it will have a lovely caramel-rich flavour. To serve, carefully lift the meringues from the baking tray. Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks and use to sandwich the meringues together.
Serve with a generous trickle of puree on top.
What are you baking this weekend? Are you a blackcurrant fan?
Recipe via Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.