You need to use superfine sugar for this dessert. It’s available at supermarkets and at Sur la Table locations and King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com).
|1||cup superfine sugar plus 1 tablespoon|
|½||teaspoon cream of tartar|
|⅛||teaspoon vanilla extract|
|1||tea bag, such as English breakfast or another black tea|
|10||dried Mission figs|
|2||cups port wine|
|1||tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger|
|Grated rind and juice of 1 blood orange|
|¼||cup chopped fresh mint|
|½||cup heavy cream|
|2||fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)|
1. Set the oven at 250 degrees. Have on hand a small sheet pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to fit the pan. Draw a 7-inch circle on it with a marker. Turn the paper over and place on the pan. Make sure the bowl and the whisk attachment of your electric mixer are clean and dry.
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2. In the mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until they form medium peaks.
3. Blend 1 cup of the sugar with the cream of tartar. Add the sugar mixture to the egg whites very slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the whites are medium-stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and beat 5 seconds more.
4. Spoon the whites onto the center of the drawn circle in a mound. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture from the center to the edges of the circle. There should be a slight lip at the edges and a bit of a depression in the center of the mixture.
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A rare Valentine’s Day together calls for a special treat
5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn the
oven off but leave the meringue inside for 1 hour more. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Using a thin metal spatula, carefully lift the meringue and transfer it to the wire rack to cool completely.
6. In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the tea bag and the figs, cover the pan, and turn off the heat. Let the figs soften for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the tea from the pan and discard the tea bag. Transfer the figs to a bowl.
7. In the saucepan, bring the port to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer the port until it reduces by half. Add the figs, ginger, blood orange rind and juice, and chopped mint. Cover the pan and leave to cool.
8. In an electric mixer, whisk the heavy cream with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until medium stiff.
9. Carefully transfer the meringue to a serving platter. Spoon the whipped cream into the center. Spoon the figs on top and decorate with mint sprigs. Gordon Hamersley