La Festa al Fresco: Mini Meringue Baskets with Pomegranate and Peach Sorbets

September 4th, 2006

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I was quite excited to get an invitation from the lovely Ivonne to her La Festa al Fresco, especially as summer is fleeing San Francisco as quickly as the ocean fog advances over the hills.  If you’ve never been here, it’s an amazing (and inevitable) sight in the afternoon: a solid wall of swirly grey and white cresting over the western hills, pouring delicate wisps and tendrils around buildings and over streets, a tender avalanche upon the city, until you look up and the pale blue sunny sky from morning is gone, covered by a blanket of fog.

In this case, I’ll happily head to Ivonne’s place where the sun still reigns and enjoy some good food and company. For this picnic, I was inspired by another recipe in my current obsession, Emily Luchetti’s A Passion for Ice Cream. She has an adorable idea for little cups piped out of meringue and filled with tiny scoops of sorbet – a perfect little mouthful or two, and which will leave you plenty of room for sampling everything else at the table!

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The original recipe called for pomegranate sorbet, but really, I thought it would be more fun to have different flavors, and in honoring the picnic’s celebration of seasonal produce, I used some of the last golden peaches to make a peach sorbet as well. I find the two pair together well: the peach is all mellow sweetness in contrast to the tart piquancy of the pomegranate, and the sorbets have a very soft, melting texture that goes well with the slightly chewy meringues. A word of advice: make some extra meringues because they are addictively sweet, crispy mouthfuls out of the oven – it’s hard to wait to fill them with sorbet.

Buon appetito, and a fond arrivederci to summer!

Mini Meringue Baskets with Pomegranate and Peach Sorbets

from Emily Luchetti’s A Passion for Dessert

Meringue Baskets

2 egg whites

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Pomegranate Sorbet

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

2 cups pomegranate juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Peach Sorbet

3 lbs ripe yellow peaches

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

large pinch of salt

To make the baskets: Draw about (18) 1 1/4-in circles about 1/2 inch apart on two sheets of parchment paper. Turn the sheets over and place them on baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Whip the egg whites in an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add about half the sugar and continue whipping until the peaks become very stiff and shiny. Add the rest of the sugar and the cornstarch and continue whipping to incorporate and tighten up the meringue. You want it to be fairly stiff so you can pipe it.

Place a 1/4-in star tip in a pastry bag and fill with the meringue. Pipe each basket by filling in each circle with a coil of meringue, then piping more coils on top in a continuous motion until your basket is about an inch high.

Bake the meringues for about 20 minutes or until they are dried out. Let them cool to room temperature and then remove from the parchment paper. If you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

makes about 36 baskets

To make the pomegranate sorbet: Heat the sugar and water together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Transfer the liquid to a bowl and add the pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and salt. Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Chill the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. You will probably have to chill the sorbet further afterwards in the freezer as this sorbet is very soft.

To make the peach sorbet: Peel and pit the peaches, then cut them up into small pieces. Puree them in a blender or food processor until smooth, then strain. You should get about 3 cups of puree. Put the puree in a bowl and add in the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Chill the mixture overnight. Chill the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

To serve: Using a very small scoop or melon baller, place a scoop of sorbet in the meringue baskets. Serve them immediately, or store in the freezer until ready to serve.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • J #1

    hi anita, i so am obsessing about this book too ;) and i so flagged this recipe too :) BEAUTIFUL meringue and sorbet baskets; thank you, as always, for being such an inspiration!

  • Ivonne #2

    Anita,

    The picture alone is enough to make me cry! They are so cute and sweet and what a wonderful idea to use meringue cups to hold the sorbet. Emily Lucchetti owes you because based on your enthusiasm for her books they’re both on my “to buy” list.

    Thank you so much for coming to the festa and for bringing this incredible dish! Hope it adds a bit of summer to your day.

    Ciao!

  • Lisa #3

    I agree with Ivonne, these are so incredibly cute and delicious looking! Thank you so much for bringing them to the party, Anita! :D

  • ParisBreakfasts #4

    These are just exquisite! ANd are you able to get pomegranates already out there? Ah ha..it’s the juice…POM I guess. And I forgot about the La Festa :( To busy dreaming of Venice gondoliers..

  • daniela #5

    Lovely as always!
    thanks for another idea…

  • Mary #6

    OMG, those are just too cute for words! Ice cream and sorbet are always good even when the fog rolls in.

  • peabody #7

    Love it. So cute.

  • Helen #8

    what do you mean I was not supposed to eat them all?
    These are truly precious! Can’t wait to try the sorbets!

  • sam #9

    The sorbets with the meringue looks absolutely wonderful. You rock Anita!

  • jenjen #10

    I wish you lived closer to me. I would at your house eating all your wonderful creations all the time.

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  • Valerie #12

    Aack! Totally gorgeous! Must make some NOW …..

  • Tanna #13

    Astonishing, absolutley gorgeous! Little things may be more work but that are so worth the efforts. I would love to share with you. Love the words of advice to make extra!

  • Dianka #14

    Wow, these are beautiful! Very impressive, you are so talented!

  • Kat #15

    very pretty and summery!

  • Christine #16

    Wow, those sorbets look so delicious. I love your photographs of them too. Picture perfect!

  • Baking Soda #17

    Awwww, too good to be true! This would be a perfect dessert for me, just a little bite of sorbet (my favourite) and meringue as well (childhood memories, my mom always made them for my birthday). My birthday is coming up and guess what we’ll be having for dessert? Thank you!

  • gattina #18

    what a lovely color arrangement! And I like all the ingredients you picked, very nice!

  • Anita #19

    Hi J,
    Thanks for the lovely compliments. I can’t wait to see your rendition of this – or any of Emily’s great recipes!

    Hi Ivonne,
    Thanks again for hosting such a great party. I’m sure you’ll love Emily’s book!

    Hi Lisa,
    I should thank you also for hosting the festa. Such a great collection of dishes!

    Hi Carol,
    I don’t blame you for dreaming of Venice. Yes, the POM is more reliable than trying to find pomegranates – so you can make the sorbet whenever you want!

    Hi Daniela,
    Thank you! Glad I can inspire you!

    Hi Mary,
    Thank you! I agree, I’ll keep eating ice cream while bundled up in my living room!

    Hi Peabody!
    Thanks! I had fun making them.

    Hi Helen,
    Well, I *think* I made enough for everyone to have a couple. Glad you like them!

    Hi Sam,
    Thank you! Glad you approve, and I’ve been enjoying your NYC posts lately!

    Hi Jen,
    I could say the same about your yummy creations! Will let you know if I ever make it down under!

    Hi Valerie,
    Thanks! Hope you enjoy them!

    Hi Tanna,
    Yes, I find people are always drawn to the small individual portions first! Plus they are easier to pop in your mouth:)

    Hi Dianka,
    Thank you for the compliments:) Your crumble looked delicious too!

    Hi Kat,
    Thank you!I have been loving your posts about your travels, I went to Kyushu years ago and loved it!

    Hi Christine,
    Thank you! Glad you like the sorbets!

    Hi Baking Soda,
    What a wonderful memory! I’m flattered that this might make it to your bday dinner!

    Hi Gattina,
    Thank you so much! I love all your creations, so it’s a big compliment from you!

  • Emma #20

    Thanks for your entry to DMBLGIT – have a look at all the entries here : link to picasaweb.google.com.

    That is a great idea – Meringue and sorbet looking so lovely together!

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