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Semifreddo di Meringa con Salsa alle Ciliege - This stunning dessert is always delivers the wow factor. It is brilliant for entertaining as it can beleft in the freezer until you need it and dressed with the fruit coulis at the last minute. We ate it at LOsteria di Santa Marina and begged chef Agostino to give us the recipe. You can let your imagination run riot, adding fruit according to the season, nuts or even hot chocolate sauce.

+ Ingredients

1 quantity of Basic Meringue (see recipe instructions below)
350 ml (12 fl oz/11/3 cups)
Whipping cream
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod (vanilla bean) or 1 tsp vanilla extract
75 g (21/2 oz/generous 1/2 cup) icing (confectioners) sugar
1 quantity Cherry Coulis
BASIC MERINGUE:
125 g (4 oz) egg whites (around 4 medium egg whites)
250 g (9 oz/generous 1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar

See Instructions below for flavourings

+ Method

Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/Gas 1/2). Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment measuring at least 30 cm (12 in) square. Divide the meringue mixture into 3 and spread one third on to each sheet making a circle or square around 1 cm (1/2 in) thick and 23 cm (9 in) across. This can be done using a cake tin as a mould and pushing the meringue flat with a spatula. Alternatively draw a circle or square and use a piping bag to pipe a spiral of meringue to form the shape. Bake for 30“40 minutes or until crisp on the outside and slightly soft inside .

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Put the cream, vanilla and icing sugar into a large bowl and whisk together to soft peaks. Place one of the meringues on to a plate and spread half the cream mixture on top. Put the second meringue on top and spread this with the rest of the cream. Top with the final meringue and freeze overnight.

Remove from the freezer and cut into squares or circles by using a hot knife or pushing a ring mould into it. Either re-freeze at this point or serve straight away. If you re-freeze to use later then take them out of the freezer 15 minutes before you wish to serve them. Serve with the Cherry Coulis.

Serves 6“8

+ Ingredients

BASIC MERINGUE

+ Method

Makes 40“45

+ Ingredients

Flavourings:

+ Method

+ Pistachio: 50 g (2 oz/1/3 cup) pistachio nuts, finely ground in a food processor

+ Hazelnut: 50 g (2 oz/1/3 cup) hazelnuts, toasted and finely ground in a food processor

+ Strawberry: 100 g (31/2 oz/1/3 cup) strawberries 30 g (1 oz/2 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar

Put the egg whites and three quarters of the sugar into a heatproof mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water making sure that the water does not touch the bowl. Whisk the egg mixture using an electric beater to 45°C (110°F) on a thermometer or until it becomes really thick and glossy.

Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and stand it on a tea towel (dish cloth) so that the bottom dries and doesnt drip into the next bowl. Pour the mixture into a food mixer with a whisk att achment or use an electric beater and whisk until it doubles in size. Keep the whisk running and add the remaining sugar little by little.

Preheat the oven to 110°C (225°F/Gas 1/4).

Flavour the meringues by folding in one of the flavours (above) or you can leave them plain. For the strawberry meringues, it is pretty to ripple the coulis through the meringues rather than mix it all in.

Pipe or spoon the meringue mixture on to baking trays lined with baking parchment making them 4 cm (13/4 in) wide and 2“3 cm (3/4“11/4 in) high. Bake for around 30“40 minutes or until they are light to the touch, lift off easily, crisp on the outside and slightly soft of the inside. If you like them brittle leave them in the oven for another 15 minutes.

+ Ingredients

For the strawberry filling

+ Method

Put the strawberries and sugar into a microwavable bowl and soften in the microwave for around 3“4 minutes or put into a small saucepan over a medium heat. When the strawberries can be squashed easily with a spoon against the side of the bowl or pan they are done. Sieve the mixture to get rid of any large pips and allow to cool. The same can be done with raspberries.