The uber-popular herbaceous perennial, AKA rhubarb, is bringing its magic to this recipe in full throttle. Okay, before we start, I’m not gonna lie: meringues are a little tricky. They are so temperamental! But should you follow a few tips (which are included in the recipe) and be patient, your efforts will be rewarded with the taste of sweet pillowy goodness. You can make a few things in advance and just assemble everything the day of.
- 2 large rhubarb stalks, washed, trimmed, sliced
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- ½ lemon (juice only)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of ground cardamom (optional)
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 75 g (½ cup) spelt or plain flour
- 30 g (⅓ cup) rolled oats
- 70 g cold unsalted butter (or shortening or cold coconut oil), chopped
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- ⅓ cup roughly ground pistachios (chunky is good!), plus extra to serve
- pinch of salt
- whipped thickened cream or coconut cream, to serve
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 6 egg whites
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 220 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
To make the crumble, put the flour, rolled oats, butter, sugar, pistachios and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to break down the cold butter and use a ‘pinching’ motion to combine until it looks like coarse meal. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (watch the bottom so it doesn’t burn!). Let it cool.
Meanwhile, to make the meringues, first dissolve the vinegar and cornflour in a small container until there are no lumps and keep it close to you. Start beating your egg whites in a clean bowl, add the pinch of cream of tartar and continue to beat until you reach soft peaks – at this point, you’ll add a bit of the vinegar mixture, and a few spoons of sugar. Alternate between those two until you finish the sugar and the whites are stiff and glossy (I suggest to beat slowly when incorporating the sugar so you don’t collapse them). Give one last swirl to incorporate the vanilla.
Spoon the glossy whites into 10 cm rounds on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper and, using the same spoon, try to make some space in the centres (like a nest). Place trays in the oven and immediately turn down the temp to 90°C. Bake for about 1 hour, rotating trays every 10 minutes. Once they’re hard enough on the outside, turn off the oven and let them sit in there as the oven cools down, about 1–1½ hours. Remove when ready.
Meanwhile, cook the rhubarb and raspberries. Place in a large saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cardamon and water, and turn on the heat to medium. Let the fruits gently simmer until the rhubarb is soft (but not pureed). Strain the mixture into the saucepan and set aside the fruit. Return the liquid in the pan to the stovetop and let it boil over high heat for about 10 minutes or until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
Assemble the treats. Place meringues on plates, spoon on some whipped cream, then spoon some of the fruit on top and give a generous drizzle of the fruit liquid. Top with the pistachio crumble and, if needed, add extra pistachios.
• Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature!
• No greasy utensils whatsoever. Wash your bowl and whisk if needed and dry completely; meringues can’t handle moisture at all.
• Don’t add salt (contrary to common belief). It actually makes it harder for the whites to rise.
• Be patient and gradually spoon the sugar into the egg whites as you beat them; don’t dump the whole lot in or you’ll deflate it.
• When baking, keep a close eye on the meringue, as each oven is different.
• Cooked meringues will last around three days if stored in an airtight container.
• Cornflour helps get rid of moisture; apple cider vinegar makes meringues chewy.
Recipe from Artful Desperado by Gabriel Cabrera, with photographs by Gabriel Cabrera.