I have spring on my mind even if Mother Nature isn’t quite cooperating; we enjoy a handful of glorious days with perfect temperatures and Robin’s Egg blue skies and 48 hours later it’s overcast and gloomy. However, my peonies have poked their plumy-pink stems up through the ground as has our rhubarb patch so I know spring is here; the koi pond has been cleaned, the fountain is running and it looks like this coming weekend will be our first mow of the season.
We’ve been busy planning our garden and The Professor has started seeds which will be ready to transplant in another few weeks; peas, lettuces, fennel, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, beets and squash will be planted in our raised beds – new this year and I have to admit, we’re pretty jazzed. We’ll also trying a few potatoes, onions and garlic as well as nasturtiums, zinnias and sunflowers. We have extended travel scheduled for all of May and into June but the remainder of the summer will be spent in the garden with the bees.
And I must admit, I’m really looking forward to all the great summer food we’ll share with friends and family – do you love summer food too? There’s just something about dining al fresco that makes me super happy!
This meringue roulade makes me super happy too because I have dreamed about making meringues for years; I hesitated because I believed meringues were ‘fussy’ and ‘too difficult’ to master. Turns out I was wrong . . . and if I’m being honest, I’ve been wrong about a lot of things but we don’t need to share that with anyone – we can keep it between you and me, yes?
Making a meringue roulade might seem daunting but I promise you, it’s not. Light, fluffy, sticky marshmallow, spoons itself gently around softly whipped cream; brightly-colored lemon curd swirls peek from underneath a scattereing of blueberries. Sprinkle a few sliced almonds for a bit of crunch, shake a dusting of powdered sugar over the top and I promise, you’ve just created a swoon-worthy dessert.
And the best part? It’s ready to eat in a little more than an hour.
NOTE: The recipes calls for superfine sugar (aka ‘castor sugar’) and you must use it here; granulated sugar can leave a gritty texture which is unpleasant in a meringue. Getting the cooked meringue off the parchment can be a little tricky but after making 5 of these desserts, I’ve found that using an extra-long, flat-edged spatula works great in separating the meringue from the parchment; I start at one of the short ends and work my way around the meringue getting as close to the center underneath as possible; if you don’t have a spatula, a Chef’s knife will work. Additionally, I prefer the taste of vanilla paste but feel free to use vanilla extract if that’s what you have. And finally, I use blueberry extract in this recipe and it just ups the blueberry flavor – again, use vanilla or lemon extract if that’s what you have on hand.
BLUEBERRY MERINGUE ROULADE WITH LEMON CURD
Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More
FOR THE MERINGUE:
- 4 large egg whites
- 250 grams (1-1/4 cups) superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
FOR THE CREAM:
- 4-ounces mascarpone (can sub cream cheese)
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons blueberry extract
- 1-2/3 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup lemon curd (more if you’d like)
- 1 half-pint of fresh blueberries, plus more for top
- 3 Tablespoons slivered almonds
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
- Line the base and sides of a 13 by 9-inch sheet pan with parchment paper, leaving about a half-inch border all around the edge of pan; you need to be able to lift the meringue out of the pan once it’s baked – having that little extra edge makes this task easier; set aside
FOR THE MERINGUE:
- In a standmixer, whip the egg whites on high until they begin to firm up; add the sugar to the whites in spoonfuls whipping until a firm, glossy meringue forms; stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and whip a few seconds more
- Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the vanilla paste, vinegar, and cornstarch
- Spread the mixture inside the prepared pan and level with an offset spatula
- Bake for 30 minutes, until a crust forms and the meringue is cooked through (it will still feel soft to the touch); remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan
- Remove the cooled meringue onto a fresh piece of parchment paper; the easiest way I’ve found to do this is to run an extra-large, flat-edged spatula underneath and around all the edges of the meringue. The top will crack and that’s fine – the goal is to keep the bottom in one piece and not tear it. If you don’t have a spatula, a Chef’s knife will work too – just make sure all of the parchment is removed from the bottom. Once you’re sure the meringue has been peeled away from the parchment, carefully transfer the meringue to a clean sheet of parchment
FOR THE CREAM FILLING:
Place the mascarpone (or cream cheese), confectioners’ sugar, and blueberry extract in a large bowl and whisk by hand until smooth
Add the cream and whisk with an electric mixer until the cream just holds its shape – about 3-4 minutes; you’ll need to watch carefully as it’s easy to overmix and you’ll end up with flavored butter.
TO FORM THE ROULADE:
- Spread most of the mascarpone cream over the original underside of the meringue, reserving about 1/4 cup for the top. Leave about a 1-inch border around the edge of the meringue; dollop the lemon curd on top of the cream and gently swirl evenly throughout the cream – I like seeing the swirls of yellow but if you’d rather fold it into the cream, it doesn’t change the taste
- Scatter the blueberries evenly over the cream-lemon curd mixture
- Using the paper to assist you and starting from a long edge, gently roll up the meringue into a log shape
- Trim the ends (optional – but those ends are for the baker . . . just sayin’) and using long spatulas on each end, carefully transfer the log onto a serving dish
- Top with remaining cream down the center of the long and add a few tablespoons of lemon curd; using an off-set spatula, swirl. Chill for at least 30 minutes
- When ready to serve, top with a few more blueberries, sprinkle with sliced almonds and dust with confectioners’ sugar