Tropical Fruit Vacherin (Meringue Cups)
Last weekend I co-hosted a Thai dinner party for 6 women. My friends Toni and Jen came over and we cooked up a storm of fresh dumplings, Tom Yam soup, green papaya salad and a spicy beef coconut curry with lime scented rice. It was a feast to be sure. I wanted to create a dessert that would fit the theme of our Thai dinner, look gorgeous and be light enough to eat after we had stuffed them full. I made a vacherin cup of fluffy meringues baked until crisp. I served it filled with three different tropical sorbets: passion fruit, mango and coconut. That would have been enough, but this was a party and I wanted it to be a little more celebratory, so I added a tropical fruit tower on a pool of mango creme Anglaise. It was divine and their wasn't a morsel left on the plates. The Vacherin (Meringue Cup) : 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 eggs), at room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted 1 cup Vanilla Creme Anglaise 1/2 cup of mango puree to mix with the Anglaise (optional) 2 or 3 types of Tropical Sorbet Tropical Fruit Salsa: 1 mango, finely diced 1 pineapple, finely diced 1 Thai chili pepper, finely minced 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint 2 small key limes zested and juiced 2 tablespoons brown sugar To make the vacherin: Preheat oven to 300. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a clean bowl of your mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until just foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high until you reach stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. They should be nice and glossy. Make sure not to over beat or you will dry out the egg whites. Add the sifted confectioner's sugar and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Set up a pastry bag with a star or round tip. Fill the pastry bag about 1/2 full. Pipe out 3-4 inch circles. Then add peaked stars to the edge to create a border. Turn off oven. Place the vacherin in the heated, but turned off oven and leave them to dry out for several hours. I put mine in at night and left them there until the next day. They should be barely different in shape or color when they are done. They will be crisp and light. To make the tropical fruit salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, but can be made several hours ahead. I used a 1 1/2" round cookie cutter to make the tower of fruit salsa. I put the creme Anglaise on the plate and place the cookie cutter where I wanted the fruit salsa to be. I filled the cookie cutter with the fruit and pressed it firmly down, then gently lifted the cookie cutter away. The vacherin cups, salsa and Anglaise can all be made well ahead so all you have to do is assemble the desserts when the time comes. I wouldn't suggest this dessert for 100s of guests unless you have some help in the kitchen, but for 6-8 guests it is a show stopper and not at all difficult.