For the last couple of years Nana & Poppa have come over & stayed with us for Christmas, but Poppa isn’t up to travelling any more & so this year we spent Christmas over there – but to save them any effort we said we’d cater 🙂 Nana insisted on doing the potatoes (newly dug from their garden), but we took fresh beans, a chicken & smoked red pepper roulade (because they’d enjoyed the smoked salmon one so much) – & for dessert, raspberry jelly & meringues. (This would work just as well with strawberries or blueberries & indeed, since we have way too many strawberries & the husband is tired of making strawberry jam, strawberry jelly is probably in our near culinary future.)
Now, this was no ordinary raspberry jelly ie its ingredients had been nowhere near a packet! I’ve been freezing our raspberries as they’re picked; well, most of them, anyway. So I had plenty to hand. I put about 2&1/2 cups of the frozen berries in a saucepan with 1 c sugar & heated them slowly to a gentle simmer – all the luscious juices ran from the fruit & the smell was divine. Then I poured the mix of juice & pulpy berries through a sieve; I didn’t worry too much about the fact that I was catching pulp as well as juice, but I really didn’t want the pips. (The husband joked that I should sell those to the manufacturers of raspberry jam.)
Next, I added 4 tsp powdered gelatine to 2 Tblsp cold water, & once it had softened I heated the mix gently in the microwave till the gelatine had dissolved. Then I went back to the raspberries & made what was effectively ‘thick juice’ up to 500 ml with hot water, before mixing in the dissolved gelatine & pouring the jelly into a pretty bowl to set. That travelled safely over to the Mount the next day in a chilly bin, & before serving I poured 500 ml vanilla custard over the top: the combination of ruby red jelly & creamy yellow custard looked most attractive.
And, because I’d made blueberry brioche the day before & as a result had egg whites to spare, I made meringues to go with dessert. While I adore meringues I’ve never made them often, but these were a breeze – the recipe’s from taste.com.au, & it’s a good one. I beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a glass bowl until they were stiff, & then beat in 1 c sugar, a little at a time. Once the sugar had all dissolved I had a lovely, glossy, stiff meringue mix. I transferred this to baking-paper-covered oven trays using a tablespoon, & then put them in the oven, which I’d heated to 120 degrees C but lowered to 90 as soon as they went in. After about 90 minutes the meringues were crispy on the outside & this lovely pale, golden-white colour, at which point I turned the oven off & left them there to dry overnight. Stored in an airtight container they would have lasted a week or so, but there was little chance of that – there were 8 of us round the table on Christmas Day & every single meringue disappeared.
And I was delighted to find that they were just like the ones I remember my mother making: crisp on the outside but soft & chewy within. One more happy nostalgia trip 🙂