I’m a sucker for a good curd. I ramble on about making curds for a long long time. It’s the sumptuous sour sweet butteryness bordering on silky creamy smoothness that gets me every time. Mmm, I can almost taste it as I’m writing…. The success to a good curd, however, is choosing a fruit with a good acidity level. Lemons, gooseberries, rhubarb and quinces all come to mind.
Since I had the thermomix I have made all curds using this machine, partly because it’s as simple as putting all the ingredients in, setting the timer and pressing a button; the machine does all the work, cooking and stirring automatically. Once done all I need to do is to pour it into a container, chill and serve. However, I also recognise that not everyone has this piece of machinery at home, and for that reason I have also added the conventional cooking method too. It does require continuous stirring but all the hard work leads to a brilliant treat as a result.
This pudding is a great party pleaser and perfect when catering for larger numbers. Make the meringues up to one week in advance, keep them in an airtight container in a dry cupboard. The curd and gooseberries can also be made up to three days in advance. You can simply place the meringues in a bowl in the centre of the table along with the curd, gooseberries and cream and your guests can build their own – sounds like a really good plan to me!
Ingredients & Method
- 100g egg whites
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 350g caster sugar
- 50ml St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
- 500g fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed, rinsed and drained
- 400g cooked Gooseberry Compôte (from recipe above)
- 50ml lemon juice
- 2 large whole free range eggs
- 2 large free-range egg yolks
- 125g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped in small pieces
- 200ml double cream
- 4 tablespoons gooseberry curd (from recipe above)
First prepare the meringue nests: preheat the oven to 110°C and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Place the egg whites, sugar, vinegar and the salt in a large saucepan. Put on a clean pair of disposable gloves to cover your hands. Place the saucepan over a very low heat to gently heat the egg whites and dissolve the sugar. Put one of your hands into the egg white and sugar mixture and stir it continuously to help dissolve the sugar. By using your hand, you can control the heat, as you do not want to heat the mixture above 37°C (blood temperature). Once the mixture has reached 37°C (this will take about 5 minutes), remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring with your hand for another minute.
Transfer the mixture to an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk and whisk for 6–8 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy. Transfer the meringue mixture to a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle, then pipe eight meringue nests (each about 5cm rounds) on to the prepared baking trays, spacing them well apart.
Bake the meringue nests in the oven for about 1.5 hours or until they are dry. Check that they are cooked by touching their outsides – if they are firm on the outside but are still slightly gooey in the centre they are done. Remove from the oven, then carefully peel the meringues off the paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the meringues nests in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard and use within 1 week.
Make the gooseberry compôte. Put the sugar, elderflower liqueur and vanilla seeds in a saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Add the gooseberries and then cook rapidly, uncovered, for 5–8 minutes or until the first berries start to burst. Remove from the heat, transfer the compôte to a bowl and leave to cool completely, then cover and chill until needed.
For the gooseberry curd, weigh 400g of the gooseberry compôte into a blender and blend until smooth (set the remaining compôte aside). Add the lemon juice, whole eggs and egg yolks and blend together, then pass the mixture through a sieve and transfer to a heatproof mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the simmering water underneath) and heat gently, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to thicken, then continue to cook gently for a further 10–12 minutes or until the gooseberry curd thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon; do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.
Remove the pan from the heat (but leave the bowl set over the pan) and gradually but quickly whisk the cold butter into the gooseberry curd, a few pieces at a time, until the butter is completely melted and incorporated – by this stage you should have a rich, creamy and glossy gooseberry curd. Pour the warm curd into a clean bowl, place a piece of cling film directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming, cool and then refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you are making the gooseberry curd to serve another time, pour the warm curd into hot sterilized jars (the gooseberry curd will make about 3 x 200g jars). Cover with wax discs (wax-side down) and seal. When cold, label, then store in the fridge and use within 2–3 weeks. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 3 days.
Using a thermomix: weigh 400g of the gooseberry compôte into the thermomix bowl, blend on speed 10 and scrape the sides down. Set the timer to 5 minutes, 100°C speed 10. Insert the butterfly whisk and add the eggs and lemon juice, set the timer for a further 10 minutes at 90°C , speed 4. After 6 minutes of the cooking time drop the cold chopped butter into the mixture, a few pieces at a time.
Pour the warm curd into a clean bowl, place a piece of cling film directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming, cool and then refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you are making the gooseberry curd to serve another time, pour the warm curd into hot sterilized jars (the gooseberry curd will make about 3 x 200g jars). Cover with wax discs (wax-side down) and seal. When cold, label, then store in the fridge and use within 2–3 weeks. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 3 days.
For the gooseberry cream whip the cream and cold curd until soft peaks.
To serve: place one meringue nest in the centre of each serving plate, fill half with curd and the other half with the gooseberry cream, spoon gooseberry compote on top and serve immediately.