I don’t like meringues. They tend to be too sweet and it is a bit too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a massive sweet tooth, but eating sugar on its own – albeit in a very delicate and artistic shape – is not my cup of tea. The same applies to pavlovas, which are in the end a massive meringue with cream and fruit on top. Anyway, I found this recipe in the Eat the Love blog, where Irvin uses it to make his Honey Lemon Olive Oil Whole Wheat red Wine Italian Meringue Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnuts. Before moving any further, let us a wait a second while I rest my fingers after having typed such a big title.
Thank you. I made the cake (with a few amendments) and it turned out nice, but what struck me was the use a of a red wine Italian meringue, which Irvin then combined with cream cheese to create the filling. Pure genius. For those of you who don’t know, an Italian meringue is achieved by whisking egg whites and then, while whisking on high speed, pouring in a scolding hot sugary syrup. This achieves one main advantage: it cooks the egg whites, thus stabilizing the meringue and making it easier to work with as it will not deflate. So far I had made Italian meringue with a simple sugar syrup, but using wine (or indeed, any other liquid come think of it), is just awesome. The meringue retains much of the red wine scent and aroma (and colour!), creating a unique dessert. Please note that I do not have a sugar thermometer, so I cannot provide you with an exact temperature the syrup should be removed from the heat at. I have been doing it by pure instinct and it has worked wonders so far – in fact, twice today only!
- 125ml dry red wine
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 large egg white (about 45g), at room temperature
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- Start by measuring out the cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of your freestanding mixer. If you are doing the meringue with a hand-held electric whisk, then pour the ingredients in a bowl. I strongly advise you NOT to do this by hand as it would be a painstakingly exhausting exercise, not to mention you wouldn’t achieve the desired effect.
- In a saucepan, warm up the wine and sugar over a high heat. You are aiming for a rolling boil which spreads all over the surface of the wine mixture.
- In the meantime, pour in the egg whites in the bowl and turn on the freestanding mixer on a high speed, until the egg white is all frothy and starts whipping up into soft peaks.
- When the wine mixture comes to a rolling boil, leave it to boil for exactly one minute, then take off the heat and immediately pour the wine mixture into a jug or a container which makes it easier to pour it.
- Now, keep your freestanding mixer on high speed and slowly but steadily pour the wine down the sides of the bowl. You will see the meringue gradually changing colour and becoming pale purple. It will also increase in volume and become glossier. This is due to the combined action of the heat and the sugar. Pour in all of the liquid.
- Keep on whisking on high speed. If you touch the sides of the bowl, you will notice they are hot. You will need to keep on whisking until the temperature of the mixture comes down to room temperature. You will also notice that the mixture fluffs up and increases in volume even more as the mixer keeps on whisking it up. Turn off the engine of the mixer once the mixture has cooled down.
- You have now created your Italian meringue mixture. As I said, the meringue is already cooked, but you will still need to bake it to create a meringue. Therefore, transfer the mixture to a piping bag (with or without nozzle) and pipe on lined baking trays. I found that dusting them in icing sugar prior to piping the meringues prevent them to stick to the baking parchment. Bake at 110C for 1 hour, then remove from the oven, let cool to room temperature, remove from the baking parchment and serve.