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Monday, December 28, 2015

Roses and Roulade


As the holidays draw to a close (along with the year,) is anyone else just absolutely, unbelievably, stuffed? It seems to me that all of those healthy eating New Year's resolutions may not actually be a way to start the year off right, but more likely a consequence of finally reaching the breaking point by the gluttony of the past few months -- a stubborn contrariness stemming from a overwhelming weariness of eating.  I, for one, am wholeheartedly sick of it -- I'm actually craving a salad, if that's even possible. But realistically, where's the fun in ringing in the new year with a flute of champagne and . . . a veggie tray?  So for the last hurrah of 2015, here's a recipe that's elegant and light at the same time.

Rose and Cherry Meringue Roulade 
Adapted from Ottolenghi.

Note: I changed this recipe a good deal.  As written, the filling uses sour cream, which I think taints the dish with an overwhelming tanginess.  It almost tastes like an unsweetened Greek yogurt -- which for some may hit the spot, but I actually prefer my dessert sweet, not sour. I also thought that the filling needed a bit of a punch, so I threw some brandied cherries in with the original, and lastly, used a different method of sugaring the rose petals, since I'm a little skittish with raw egg whites. For those who would like to try the original, instructions can be found here.

Decoration

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
40 rose petals 
(approximately 3 roses -- be sure to use the outer petals which are flatter, and as always, go organic for flowers that will be used on food)
Sugar 
(preferably caster, or superfine sugar, but regular white sugar will work as well)



Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until combined.  Then bring to a boil without stirring.  Let cool completely. Dip each petal in the syrup and lay on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Scatter a light layer of sugar over the petals.  Gently shake the petals to remove any clumped sugar.  Heat at 170 degrees F for 30 minutes.  After removing from the oven, re-coat the petals with another light layer of sugar and loosen gently from the parchment, shaking to remove clumps of sugar, once again.  Try to keep the petals whole, although if they crumble, it's okay -- you will need 3-5 crumbled petals anyways.
Set aside.


Meringue

4 large egg whites
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornstarch
9 oz sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until firm glossy peaks form.  This should take 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine vinegar, vanilla extract, and cornstarch and whip until well incorporated.



Line a Swiss roll pan (33 cm x 24 cm) with parchment paper, leaving a little extra parchment to climb each side of the pan. If you dab a bit of meringue at each of the four corners, it will help the parchment to stay put.
Smooth the meringue over the parchment in an even layer. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.



Filling

13 1/2 oz heavy cream
4 1/2 oz mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 1/2 Tbsp rose water
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar 
6 oz Morello cherries (these can be purchased at Trader Joe's -- just be sure to drain them well)
2 oz brandied cherries




 Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until soft peaks form.  Add the mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, and rose water and whip until creamy.
Flip the meringue out (carefully -- don't be fooled by the word flip!) onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Peel the top parchment off of the meringue and spread with the majority of the cream (reserving about a 1/4 cup.)




 Leave about a cm bare of cream on each side of the meringue. Scatter the cherries and the rose petals on top of the cream.  





Using the bottom sheet of parchment to guide you, roll the meringue along the long edge (meaning the final roll will be long and thin, not short and fat.) Don't worry if it crumbles a little -- the inside is still very flexible and it should not crack throughout.  When the meringue is rolled up entirely, the outer edge should be on the bottom of the roll, to add stability.  Using the parchment paper, transfer the roll to your serving platter and carefully tear the parchment out from under the roll.  Top with the reserved cream and the whole sugared rose petals. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

The texture of this dessert is divine -- it's just a touch crispy at first bite, but because the meringue isn't fully cooked (in order to give it the flexibility to bend) it retains a cake-like feel, especially after soaking up the cream for a while. And the taste! Tart cherries with sweet mascarpone -- the absolutely perfect combo.  So indulgent, but without the extra pound of butter that usually accompanies a special occasion dessert like this -- it really is an ideal beautiful, light, but oh-so-flavorful finish to round out the rich holiday eating fest.



And with a sugar kick to get you though that gym workout (New Year's resolutions and all. . .)









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