One of the blessings of living in Toronto is that we get some terrific theatre. An amazing number of shows are put on every year – new shows, revivals, long runs, short runs, popular and obscure. There really is something for everyone.
But one of the drawbacks is that, with so much great theatre, it’s easy to miss something good. That’s what happened to us with the 2005 tour of Wicked. Shortly after it left town, the girls went to summer camp and came back singing the songs from the show that apparently everyone else their age had seen. “Never mind,” I thought. “When Wicked comes back to town, we’ll go.”
Year after desolate year passed, with no Wicked. I began to think my unborn grandchildren would be at camp before it came back to Toronto. Then last year came the announcement that Wicked was returning in the fall of 2010. A witch on broomstick couldn’t have snapped up tickets faster than I did. The five-year wait was worth it to see this magical production. The showstopping piece, "Defying Gravity", took my breath away.
These meringues defy gravity too. (You were wondering when I’d get around to the recipe?) I love meringues – hence my blog title – and I’m not sure how I blogged for a year before posting a recipe for them. Like Wicked, these meringues were worth the wait, the perfect mix of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The slightly tart raspberries and fluffy whipped cream were the ideal complement. As Elphaba sang to Glinda, “Together we’re unlimited/Together we’ll be the greatest team/There’s ever been.”
(From Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris)
Makes 12 meringues
6 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
For raspberry sauce:
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup good-quality raspberry jam
1 Tbsp framboise liqueur (optional; I didn’t use this)
For whipped cream:
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 pints raspberries
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small glass and a pencil, draw six 3 ½ inch circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining ½ cup of sugar into the meringue. With a large star-shaped pastry tip, pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle. Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.
Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to set in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.
For the raspberry sauce, place the raspberries, sugar and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the jam and framboise. Pour through a sieve to remove some of the seeds. Chill.
For the whipped cream, beat cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream forms peaks.
To serve, fill each shell with whipped cream, top with berries, and serve on a puddle of raspberry sauce.