This is my second recipe from Stéphane Reynaud’s 365 Good Reasons to Sit down to Eat book, as part of the 365 challenge. This was supposed to be made on the 15 July, but is rather belated (again) because I’ve been inundated with lots of work and haven’t been able to blog as much as I would have liked although I still am baking quite a bit.
Anyway, I first chose this recipe without knowing much of what it was. In fact, I had heard of a cheese by this name, but never knew that “vacherin with seasonal fruit” meant meringues with fruit. Of course, I have since rectified this by ordering vacherin desserts at some of the French establishments I visited here and there, so I now have quite a good idea of what a vacherin tastes like, and the different ways you can plate it.
A vacherin (pronounced as vash-ran) is basically a dessert consisting of meringue shells, layered with whipped cream, ice cream, fruit, etc. It’s a classic French dessert and this vacherin is no different. Reynaud called for a vacherin with all of the above actually, but since I didn’t have a fruit sorbet complimenting the fruit in the vacherin, I decided against it and had crushed meringues with fruit and whipped cream instead :]
As for seasonal fruit, well berries are in season now, but since most of them are expensive, I decided to go with strawberries as well as a local fruit, the mango. Mangoes are in season now, together with durians, rambutans and mangosteens, but I decided to get myself a Malaysian mango. It’s slightly greener than its Thai or Indian counterparts, and tastes slightly different from them too. A little astringent is what I would describe it. I thought the mango was sufficiently sweet, as I often find Indian mangoes a tad too sweet.
Note: This is the exact recipe from the book. I found it rather vague, so please read comments below for some of my modifications.
Vacherin with seasonal fruit
Preparation time: 10 minutes
800g fresh fruit
Juice of 1 lime
Fruit liquer (use the same as the fresh fruit)
3 store-bought meringues
300ml whipping cream
- Cut all the fresh fruit into cubes, puree half of it with the lime juice and the liquer.
- Crush the merigues, whip the cream into a chantilly with the sugar.
- In glasses, arrange layers of fruit, coulis, meringue, chantilly and finish with a scoop of sorbet.
- General comments: As store-bought meringues are not easily available here (I doubt they even are), I made my own meringues by using a recipe from Donna Hay. Please see below for recipe. Also, to make the chantilly, whip the cream using a mixer and gradually add in the sugar, whipping until soft peaks are achieved.
- Taste: I found the dessert a tad too sweet and I’ll definitely be reducing the amount of sugar used in the chantilly.
- Texture: I liked how the crispness of the meringues contrasted with the sweetness of the chantilly and the tartness of the fruits. The different textures melded really well. I can imagine how wonderful the vacherin will taste with an additional scoop of sorbet on top! Ps, apple sorbet with diced poached apples work really well (I had that in a French bistro!) :]
- Serving size: As you can see in the pictures, 1 meringue disc, 1 strawberry and some mangoes actually formed 3 layers in my tiny vacherin. I poured the whipped cream in between these layers, alternating with the pureed fruit and repeated the layers. Do halve the recipe as this recipe will produce a lot of vacherins!
- Storage: The meringues store pretty well at room temperature – be sure to store them in an air-tight container and they should last for a week before turning soft. Once you have assembled the vacherin, do consume it immediately as it does not keep well – the meringues will soften because of the liquid in the dessert.
|Part of the components of the vacherin.|
|Half a vacherin serving, sans the sorbet.|
*Note: The Aussies and Kiwis call this a pavlova, but it’s basically the same thing, meringues with whipped cream (or chantilly if you must) and fruit. This recipe produces 10 fist-sized meringue discs, which is perfect for 2-3 servings of vacherin above.
Adapted from Evan who adapted it from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 2
2 egg whites
80g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp white vinegar
Red food coloring
- In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in the vanilla extract and fold in the cornstarch and vinegar. Whip until you get soft shiny peaks.
- Using a spatula, dollop the meringue onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. To create colored swirls, dip a toothpick into red coloring and swirl it into the meringue.
- Bake the meringues in a preheated oven of 120C for 50-60 minutes and leave the meringue in the oven to cool.
I really enjoyed making this, as it meant stepping out of what I was comfortable with and exploring new foods. The meringue recipe is a keeper as it does produce meringues which are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside – in essence, the perfect meringue. I can imagine all the other things I could do with this meringue recipe – Eton’s Mess is something else that comes to mind that is really very similar to a vacherin. Anyway, if you’re interested in what other dishes the other cooks are whipping up in their kitchen, do head down to Murdoch Books’ 365 Challenge Blog to have a look!