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I know it’s only the beginning of December, but since most of our friends and neighbors are returning up North to spend the holidays with their families, Christmas celebrating has already started here. We’re having a neighborhood party this evening so I was looking for a dessert that smacked Christmas.
I found this recipe for a Holiday Berry Meringue Wreath and thought Wow! So I tried it and was happy that I did. It’s a little time consuming, but well worth the effort. Speaking of effort, I learned a long time ago that investing in quality, dependable kitchen tools always makes things easier and more enjoyable. Trust me, I’ve tried off-brands to save some money, but they were always a disappointment. The brands that I’ve used for years are time-tested by me in my kitchen. For example, when considering investing almost 4 hours of my time in creating this beautiful Holiday Berry Meringue Wreath I didn’t want to make any mistakes. So I used three of my workhorse pals: my wonderful KitchenAid stand mixer, KitchenAid hand mixer, a medium size All-Clad saucepan, and a Calphalon cookie sheet.
The Holiday Berry Meringue Wreath was a great hit at the party and disappeared in a matter of minutes. Most commented that it was almost too pretty to eat!
There’s always been this ongoing discussion between my wife and I about what is most gratifying…cooking or baking? Barb is both an excellent cook as well as a baker. But given the choice, she would choose cooking over baking every time. Why? Well if asked she would undoubtedly say that cooking is enjoyable whereas baking is a drudgery. That still doesn’t thoroughly answer the question. Well, it comes down to this. Cooking can be experimental. You can follow a recipe exactly as presented, or add your own spin to it without generally ending up with a disaster. Whereas baking requires one to follow directions to the tee. There is no room for innovative thought. Everything needs to be measured precisely. In other words, baking takes the fun out of creating something.
I, on the other hand, think the opposite. To me, baking is fun because things need to be exact. It’s a challenge to get things right…to make something perfect. Take this week’s feature recipe for example…our Holiday Berry Meringue Wreath.
It took nearly 4-hours to complete and had a bunch of ingredients that needed to be come into play at certain points to be successful. Here’s the meringue ingredients.
8 large egg whites at room temperature, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt, and 3 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar.
So, with our dependable KitchenAid stand mixer at the ready we went through the precise steps of using the whisk attachment to slowly and carefully combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt. Whisk on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Then, increase the speed to medium high and whisk 1 more minute until thick and opaque. Gradually adding the 3 1/2 cups of confectioners”, 1/4 cut at a time…beating until stiff, shiny peaks form, 13-15 minutes. So, it’s a process. But our trusty 30-year old KitchenAid stand mixer did its job with flying colors.
About 2-hours later we took the meringue wreath out of the 225-degree oven and it was a thing of beauty…pearly white with dry, crispy peaks.
The whipped cream middle layer was next. And for that step we another top quality kitchen tool that has always served us well, our KitchenAid hand mixer.
Then, we went onto the last step in creating this delicious Holiday Berry Meringue Wreath using these ingredients. We did make one substitution. The pomegranate wasn’t ripe enough. So, we make our sauce with cranberries, raspberries, and Meyers lemon juice. It was a good decision!
So, pressing another quality kitchen tool into action, we used a medium Calphalon saucepan to simmer the sauce ingredients until the cranberries were bursting and the sugar was completely dissolved.
So, what is most gratifying…cooking or baking? Well, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And from my vantage point this awesome Holiday Berry meringue Wreath is a convincing winner. What do you think?
3 Hours 45 Minutes (Including Cooking Time)
- 8 large eggs at room temperature (whites only)
- 1 Teaspoon of Spice Island Cream Of Tartar
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Morton fine grain salt
- 3 1/2 cups of Domino Confectioners sugar
Berry Sauce ingredients:
- 1 10 oz. bag of Habelman Bros. fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup of Domino granulated sugar
- Juice of 1/2 fresh Meyers lemon
- 4 cups of Driscoll’s fresh raspberries
- Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Whipped Cream ingredients:
- 1 cup of Land O Lakes heavy cream
- 2 Teaspoons Domino granulated sugar
- Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 225 degrees.
- Line the back of a 12″x17″ Calphalon baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a 12″ plate, flip it over and trace a 12″ circle on the parchment paper. Use a 9″ plate, and trace a circle inside the 12″ one. This will be the outline for your wreath.
- FOR THE WREATH: With a KitchenAid Stand Mixer using whisk attachment, combine the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt. Whisk on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Increase the speed to medium high and whisk 1 more minute until thick and opaque. Gradually add the 3 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Beat until stiff, shiny peaks form, about 13-15 minutes.
- TO BUILD THE WREATH: Using the template on the parchment paper as a guide, drop dollops of meringue in a line along the inside of the 12″ circle. Following the 9″ circle as a guide, to fill in the rest of the wreath. Flatten the dollops of meringue with the back if a spoon making sure to keep a lot of peaks. Fill in with extra meringue where necessary. Bake the meringue until it is dray, crisp and shiny white on the outside, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven and COOL COMPLETELY.
- TO MAKE THE BERRY SAUCE: Bring the cranberries, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer in a medium All-Clad saucepan and cook until cranberries are soft and just begin to burst and sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. COOL COMPLETELY and then gently fold in the 4 cups of fresh raspberries.
- Using a KitchenAid hand mixer, whip the heavy cream in a medium bow until soft peaks form.
- Just before serving, gently move the meringue wreath to a decorative platter (Hint: Place the parchment paper supporting the meringue wreath on your decorative platter, carefully slide it off the parchment paper onto your platter.) Spread on whipped cream, berry sauce and sprinkle with mint leaves.
- Please Note: It is imperative that you use a heavy duty stand mixer to make the meringue. A hand mixer does not have the power to do it.