Vacherins are a simple, delicious dessert you don’t tend to see very often. Essentially, they are cute little meringue baskets. They tend to have this imperfect, homemade look about them that I think adds to their appeal. Common fillings include fruit, whipped cream, citrus curds, or ice creams. I picked 3 of those things to fill my baskets with, but frankly you can choose just about anything you like. For that reason, I feel like this is kind of the perfect dinner party dessert. Give everyone a little basket, set out a spread of fruits, ice cream and whipped cream, and let everyone build their own dessert. It’s fun, and it’s less work for you!
It’s worth noting that the baskets bake for quite a long while, on very low heat. It’s tempting to turn up the heat and speed up the process, but this almost always results in browning and cracking. Be patient, young one. Let the meringue dry in its own time.
Lemon Curd and Pomegranate Vacherin Baskets
Yields 8 3″ baskets.
100g egg white
1. Preheat your oven to 175F. With a mixer, beat your egg whites until foamy. Continue beating them on high speed and very gradually add in your sugar. Beat until meringue forms stiff, glossy peaks. Fill into a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (Ateco 806 is great for this).
2. Cut a sheet of parchment to fit a large cookie sheet. Using a pastry cutter (about 3″ in diameter) and marker, draw a guide for your vacherins on the underside of the parchment. I chose an oval shape, but round looks great as well.
3. Pipe a solid layer of meringue over your guide, as shown below. Smooth it out a bit with a spatula if you like.
3. Pipe a ring around the rim of each meringue, then pipe a second ring on top to form a basket. Bake for 2-3 hours or until crisp and dried outside and soft inside.
100ml lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
1. Whisk together all your ingredients except the butter. Put them in a saucepan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, cook for an additional minute. Add the butter and sir it in until well incorporated. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and cover immediately in saran wrap, being sure to touch the saran wrap to the surface of the curd. Chill in refrigerator until completely cool.
300ml whipped cream
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1. With a mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat to stiff peak stage. Transfer your whipped cream to a pastry bag with a large star tip, and keep refrigerated until you assemble and serve your desserts.
You will also need the arils of 1 large or 2 small pomegranates.
Spoon a layer of lemon curd into the bottom of each meringue basket. Pipe whipped cream on top, sprinkle with pomegranate arils and garnish with additional whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.