Christine Manfield’s Carmen Meringay

Carmen Meringay

Here is a parody to pay tribute to the camp nature of Carmen Miranda, the infamous Brazilian singer/dancer who emerged as a Hollywood film star in the 1940s, and that crazy fruit-bowl hat that became her signature. Like Carmen, this is a bombshell, only an edible and immensely moreish one, with its contrast of dark red fruit, wicked aerated chocolate and crisp meringue. The aerated chocolate cream needs to be made the day before serving and refrigerated overnight in the canister. Serves 8

Aerated Chocolate Cream

• 56g caster sugar

• 12g sosa- brand pro espuma cold thickener

• 600ml milk

•160g valrhona p125 (couer de guanaja) chocolate, finely chopped

1 Combine the caster sugar and pro espuma in a small heavy-based saucepan, then stir in the milk. Warm the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring with a whisk and cooking until the sugar has dissolved and the milk comes to the boil.

2 Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, then pour one-third of the hot milk mixture over the chocolate, stirring with the whisk to melt the chocolate. Stirring constantly, slowly add the remaining milk mixture to keep it smooth. Blend with a stick blender to emulsify. Cool quickly over a bowl of ice until completely cold.

3 Pour into a soda siphon canister with 2 cream chargers. Shake and refrigerate overnight.

Meringue Cases

• 100g Egg whites

• 100g Caster sugar

• 100g Pure icing sugar

• 15g Cornflour

1 Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. With the motor running, slowly add the caster sugar, continuing to whisk until stiff peaks form.

2 Sift the icing sugar and cornflour together and gently fold into the meringue.

3 Spoon the stiff meringue into a piping bag fitted with a round number 6 nozzle.

4 Preheat the oven to 50°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

5 Cover the outside of 8 pastry horn moulds with baking paper, tucking the paper into the hollow centre to secure and keep firm. Stand the papered moulds on the lined tray. Pipe the meringue onto the papered moulds, working in upward strokes so the meringue lengths come halfway up each mould, then flick your hand outwards so the meringue creates peaks halfway up the horn; the cases should stand about 6 cm high.

6  Transfer the remaining meringue into a piping bag fitted with a round number 3 nozzle. Pipe meringue dots onto the baking paper between the horn moulds (these are used as a garnish). You only need 8 meringue dots, but can use the remaining mixture to make extra and store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

7  Bake the meringue cases and dots for 2 hours or until dry. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 1 hour.

8 Carefully remove the meringue cases from the moulds, then remove the paper from the meringue cases. Store the dots and cases in airtight containers in a single layer, standing upright so they don’t break, until ready to use.

Blackberry  Sauce

• 125g Blackberries

• 25ml Sugar syrup

• 5ml Strained lemon juice

1 Puree the blackberries in a blender until smooth. Stir in the sugar syrup and lemon juice until well combined. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and discard the seeds. Cover closely with plastic film and refrigerate until required.

For assembly 

• 250g Blackberries

•24 Cherries, pitted and halved

1 Drizzle a little blackberry sauce on the centre of each plate, then sit a meringue case on top; the sauce will hold it in place. Cover the inside base of the meringue case with blackberries and cherry halves, reserving 16 blackberries and 8 cherry halves for the garnish, then add a teaspoon of blackberry sauce. Squeeze the aerated chocolate cream from the canister to half-fill each meringue case. Repeat layering the fruit, blackberry sauce and chocolate cream until each meringue case is full, finishing with the chocolate cream.

2 Stand 2 blackberries and a cherry half on top of the chocolate cream, placing them above the top surface of the meringue (so they resemble a mad hat), then top with a meringue dot. Serve immediately.

Aerated Chocolate Cream: Aerating the chocolate cream in a soda siphon canister gives the texture a wonderful lightness so it doesn’t feel heavy or dense on the palate. You can use the cream to fill a pastry shell, adorn the top of a chocolate mousse or Sacher Cake or just serve it in a glass with ripe figs, strawberries or roasted pear.

Recipe from the book Dessert Divas by Christine Manfield
Photography by Anson Smart
Published by Lantern RRP $95.00