What better way to start an elegant, girly dinner, than with a miniature dessert and a pomegranate Bellini. A dainty, pink, raspberry, pistachio and rosewater meringue kiss to nibble on in one hand and a ruby red, sparkling, pomegranate aperitif to sip in the other. A slightly exotic combination with rosewater and pomegranate, that’s also slightly different to serving savoury morsels to entice people to dinner.
The recipe (see below) for the kisses is from the fabulous Meringue Girls cookbook, a neon covered, hedonistic collection of THE prettiest, girlies desserts. You will want to make every single one. But then that’s me saying that and I’m slightly dotty about meringue. It’s gorgeously sweet, but not heavy or sickly, crisp and chewy and extremely pretty and playful, the perfect partner to fresh fruit, cream and a little glass of sticky. Plus there are endless combinations to try, like adding nuts, cocoa or lime zest to a basic meringue mixture, adorning with cream, yoghurt or sorbet, even drizzling with chocolate or caramel.
After nibbling through the kisses, and finishing the Bellinis, a very simple mix of prosecco, a splash of pomegranate juice and the glamorous addition of a few pomegranate arils, seated around the table everyone chatted freely and easily. Babes were in bed at home with their dads and there was a sense of relaxation, to be away from home, communally enjoying an evening meal with friends. Eager to make the night special, I had prepared a fennel, orange and Moreton Bay bug salad and a chicken and pistachio terrine with pickled figs to start. Ingredients with a touch of luxury in dishes that could still be enjoyed informally, passing platters around the table, picking out favourite bits and taking second and thirds. Bread was dotted here and there and in-between the enjoyment of wine, slices were spread with terrine or dotted with salad leaves and pieces of seafood, as the remains of the entree was finished.
So that I could stay and enjoy conversation around the table and not spend too much time in the kitchen, when it came to the main course, I had prepared a fillet of beef rolled in herbs and wrapped in prosciutto. A Jamie Oliver recipe from his second book. I cooked it before anyone arrived and had left it to rest wrapped in abundant layers of foil and tea towels on the kitchen bench. I love using this method when cooking meat. Not only does it take the stress out of catering, but it ensures that the meat is well rested and juicy. Contrary to what most people believe, it stays hot too. I simply had to slice it and arrange it on a platter, along with some greens and roast potatoes. I was back at the table in no time, choosing the crispiest spuds!
After having our fill of of meat, fish and vegetables, it was time for dessert, also a replica of a Meringue Girls creation. To the table I gingerly brought a metre long plank of chocolate meringue. It was smothered with mascarpone, dotted with quartered, cinnamon poached pears and toasted walnuts before being anointed with caramel and chocolate. A spectacular centrepiece, that between the 10 of us, was gone in five minutes. Everyone agreed that it was the standout dish of the night, some having seconds and thirds. I was truly honoured. And it wrapped up the evening nicely. Meringue to start and finish a gorgeous evening with friends.
Adapted from the Meringue Girls cookbook
300g caster suger
5 egg whites (150g)
50g finely ground pistachios
1 tsp rosewater
300ml Cup whipping cream
Preferably in a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Now add the sugar a little at a time over a 10 minute period. Stop the mixer and add the pistachios and rosewater. Start the mixer again, and let the whisk turn no more than 10 times. You want the ingredients combined, but don’t want to knock any of the air from your meringue.
Working quickly, transfer the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe little mounds on to a baking tray lined with baking paper. The more you pipe, the better and more consistent your mounds will be. The trick is to squeeze the bag firmly and keep the tip of it in the mixture then lift up quickly.
Bake the mini meringues at 95 degrees C for 30-40 minutes until they lift easily from the paper. When they are done, turn the oven off, open the door and leave the meringues to cool on the tray. Stored in an airtight container, the meringues will keep for two weeks.
Dollop each meringue with a generous tablespoon of whipped cream and top with a fresh raspberry.
Stored in an airtight container, the meringues will keep for two weeks.
Enjoy this? You might also like my brown sugar meringue roulade