When I came across this recipe on Pinterest I was first drawn to the pretty shape then the slight oddness of the recipe. Before now I hadn’t seen jelly used in a meringue recipe. Next I had to try to decipher and anglicise the recipe. Ok I know jello is jelly in the UK but where did it go in the recipe? what type? Thankfully twitter came to the rescue and stopped me from mixing jelly cubes with hot water to make a kind of dodgy Italian meringue and use jelly crystals instead. What would the texture be like? Would it be like marshmallow because that is made from sugar, egg geletin? Turns out it was more like a stiff meringue. The jelly crystals do a great job of flavouring and colouring the meringue in one beat of a whisk. The blackcurrant jelly gives the meringue a delicate vintage pink hue.
Gelatin helps keep the mixture stiff so it doesn’t lose it shape while baking and piping roses is easier than it looks. Use a large open star tip (Wilton 1M) and unlike piping a cupcake swirl where you pipe from the outside in, pipe from the inside out with about two revolutions. Keep the piping bag vertical to stop the tip ruining the already piped rose. alternatively this mixture is so stable you can also pipe other shapes. I also managed to pipe some simple star shaped peaks. If you struggle with traditional meringues try this recipe.
Ideally when making these hope that the village doesn’t have a power cut. After these had been in the oven around 90 minutes the electricity went down. This issually signified by a neighbours burglar alarm beginning its 15-minute long ear-piercing wail. Once the electricity clicked back on an hour later the meringues had cooked with the residual heat in the oven. At least I didn’t have a cake in the oven as the break in heat wouldn’t have been so forgiving. I know of someone who claims to make the perfect meringues by ‘cooking’ them in the airing cupboard overnight, admittedly something I’m yet to try.
These do have a slightly different texture than traditional meringues; slightly denser, but still delicious. In the mouth they start quite dry then dissolve into a chewy meringue thanks to the the jelly crystals. The taste of the jelly is also strong. I’d be interested to see if they would work with vegetarian jelly crystals or vege-gel as this could bring more flexibility with flavours. These meringues would be a great way of decorating an elegant pudding. By using strawberry crystals it could make a rather fancy Eton Mess.
Blackcurrant Meringue Roses
makes around 15 roses
based on Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Meringues
1 large egg white
1 packet (23g) of jelly crystals (like Hartley’s Sugar Free)
2 tbsp caster sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1) In a clean bowl whisk the egg white until you have soft peaks.
2) In a separate bowl mix together the jelly crystals and sugar then gradually whisk into the egg whites until the mixture is thick, glossy (like shaving foam) and you have stiff peaks.
3) Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1M tip. On a baking sheet lined with baking parchment pipe roses about 4cm in diameter (read above for the rose piping technique)
4) Bake at 100°c for approximately 2 hours then leave to dry in the turned-off oven overnight. Store in an air tight container.