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Vacherins with Strawberries and Cream

Gale Gand - Tru

Chef demonstration
Desserts
Summer

This dessert is all about putting the perfect local strawberry – one of my favorite fruits – on a pedestal. The pedestal is a tiny mound of crisp white meringue and pillowy whipped cream, so that the berry glows red and dewy on top. Each soft, crisp, juicy, creamy mouthful includes all three elements. Vacherins, an easy French classic, are like a much lighter and more elegant berry shortcake. The little white-and-red cups look beautiful on a serving plate. Crown each one with a tiny mint leaf, if you like.

*Note: You’ll need to start this recipe a day ahead.

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup egg whites (from about 4 eggs), at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • Tiny mint sprigs or leaves, for garnish (optional)
Method:
  1. At least a day and up to 5 days before you plan to serve the dessert, heat the oven to 300 degrees for at least 15 minutes, then turn it off and leave the door closed.
  2. Mix the egg whites until foamy in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  3. Add the granulated sugar and whip until stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the confectioner’s sugar and whip very briefly, just to incorporate.
  5.  Spoon the mixture into the pastry bag and pipe a small round or base of meringue, 1 inch in diameter, onto the cookie sheet.
  6. Then pipe a ring of meringue around the edge of the base and spiral upwards and around one more time, making a tiny cup that is two rows high. Continue making these little cups in rows on the cookie sheet.
  7. Transfer the sheet to the turned-off oven, close the door, and leave overnight to dry until crisp.
    (The recipe can be made up to this point and stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 5 days in advance.)
  8. When ready to serve, whip the cream and pipe or spoon it into the cups. Top each cup with a trimmed strawberry. Tuck a mint leaf into each one.

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