The challenge for this week’s Short and Tweet was to make meringues. Like the previous week’s pies, meringues seem to have fallen from favour in many households; I guess because they are seen as unhealthy and a bit passé. However, as I have discovered over the past few days, there is a good reason why dishes such as pavlova and lemon meringue pie were beloved of 1970’s housewives as meringue really is a doddle to make. I tested three of Dan Lepard’s meringue recipes: two from “Short and Sweet” and also one from his column in the Guardian newspaper which, whilst not technically part of the Short and Tweet challenge, had been tempting me for ages. All three recipes bring meringue kicking and screaming into the 21st century and yield such fabulous results that meringues are definitely going to be included at my dinner table from now on.
First up was Dan’s modern take on the traditional lemon meringue pie – a lemon meringue sundae. At first glance, this sundae of homemade lemon curd, vanilla ice-cream and crushed meringue looked like quite a lot of work but it was really very simple. Dan’s “easy” lemon curd was indeed just that and involved no faffing about with a bain marie which was a blessing. I also used Dan’s recipe for homemade vanilla ice-cream which was similarly successful. My meringues did turn out a bit flat and stuck to the baking sheet but luckily this didn’t matter as they had to be broken up in the sundae anyway. All in all a very tasty dessert but in future, I think I would forgo the sundae and simply ripple the curd and broken meringue pieces through just frozen homemade ice-cream.
Next up, I decided to try Dan’s double chocolate meringues which really were effortless, taking no more than about 10 minutes to prepare. This time the meringues held their shape a lot better although I still suffered from “sticky bottom syndrome” when trying to remove them from the baking sheet. With hindsight, I think this was because I undercooked them slightly as I used Dan’s minimum suggested cooking time of 1 ½ hours (being paranoid about ending up with dry, powdery meringue). However, the undercooked centre was actually quite delicious – almost like a chocolate mousse in a crisp sugary shell. I served my meringues with some candied orange and some sweetened cream laced with Cointreau (left over from the Crepes Suzette). It was truly divine and a recipe that I will be cooking again and again.
Finally, I decided to make the recipe which has had me drooling since it was published here on the Guardian website last month: Dan Lepard’s roasted pineapple, coconut meringues and rum cream. Just from the title, you know it is going to be good and indeed it was – a little taste of tropical paradise. A chewy, almost macaroon like base, covered with sweetened cream spiked with dark rum and topped with fragrant pineapple roasted in orange juice and spices. This was another winner from Dan, and once again, one that is sure to become a stalwart in my repertoire of dishes.