Equipment needed: a candy thermometer, a free-standing mixture—or if using a hand-held mixer, another pair of hands.
Blurring the lines between ice cream and mousse, simplicity and finesse, nostalgia and novelty, this is the kind of dessert that’s hard to categorize but easy to love. Billows of softly-whipped cream and meringue give it loft. Raspberries, pureed and whole, give it rosy tang. Brandy, black pepper and a pureed whole vanilla bean—tricks from a Venetian cook—give it depth and brawn. This dessert needs a commitment, though once it’s safely stashed in the freezer you can forget about it completely for up to two months.
Any fruit can stand in for the raspberries, and do play with the presentation. Try freezing this in a ring mold, lining the bottom with the extra berries so they glisten like a crown of rubies when turned out.
Cook to Cook: The key here is the Italian meringue, a mixture of beaten egg whites cooked with hot sugar syrup (think airy, whipped marshmallows) that gives frozen desserts exceptional texture and stability. It’s a little fussy but not difficult; just follow the instructions carefully and you’ll be home free. And not only will you feel like a pro for having conquered it, suddenly you’ll find a whole universe of frozen creations at your fingertips.
The Italian Meringue
2. Pass the berry puree through a fine strainer to get rid of seeds and bits of bean. Cover and chill.
3. The Italian meringue: Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer, or, if using a handheld electric beater, put them in a deep large bowl and have someone man the beater. Put the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir to blend. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Set over medium-high heat. Do not stir again as you bring the mix to a boil, and keep boiling it until the syrup reaches 245ºF. (Check the temperature by carefully tipping the pan so the end of the thermometer is immersed in syrup). Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Immediately turn the mixer to high speed.
4. The thermometer will hover around 245°F. for a few moments then it will go up to 248ºF. to 250ºF. The beating whites should be near to firm peaks. Immediately pull the syrup from the stove, detaching the thermometer. Stand back while you pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl of the beating whites. Keep beating at high speed for 4 minutes, then turn the machine to medium and beat until the whites are at room temperature.
5. Assemble the dessert: With a big spatula, fold the puree and whipped cream into the whites until blended but still puffy and light. Pour half the mixture into a 3-quart glass serving bowl. Cover with the reserved cup of berries and their juices. Spread the remaining meringue mixture over the berries, cover and freeze.
6. To serve, thaw the meringue in the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, scatter the remaining 2 cups of berries over the top. Spoon the cream into martini or coupe glasses, or small bowls.
Recipe by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Copyright © 2012.
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