During the days surrounding
Julia Child’s 100th birthday, I was reminded of this
light and cool dessert that finishes a meal in classic French
elegance. It is an island of soft meringue rising from a pale
custard sea. It is quite heavenly and very easy to make. You simply
beat the egg whites with sugar until they thicken into a snowy mass
and then bake. The Crème Anglaise is a chilled light custard I've
jolted with a fresh peach puree and Peach Brandy. Quite lovely.
1½ tablespoons unsalted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
8 egg whites, at room
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
teaspoon cream of
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup slivered almonds,
toasted and pulverized in a blender
For the Peach Crème Anglaise:
1½ cups milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 medium peaches,
ripened, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped and pureed (appox. 1 cup)
3 tablespoons Peach
Preheat the oven to 250 °F.
Butter the inside of a 2-quart soufflé dish or baking dish at least
3½ inches deep. Use 2 tablespoons sugar to coat the butter, knocking
out the excess.
1. Using a mixer on medium
speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Add salt and cream of tartar,
increase speed to fast and continue to beat until whites hold soft
peaks. Add the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat
until the whites form stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla. Using a rubber
spatula, gently fold in the ground almonds.
2. Spoon the mixture into the
prepared dish and smooth the top. It will overfill the dish ¼ inch.
Do not press mixture down. Bake until the meringue has risen about ½
inch and is lightly colored, 30-40 minutes. Let cool at room
temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerated for at least an hour.
It will settle.
3. Meanwhile prepare the Crème
Anglaise by putting the milk into a medium heavy saucepan and
bringing it to a simmer. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together yolks,
sugar and salt until pale yellow and thick. Whisking constantly,
slowly drizzle in half of the hot milk (don’t stop or you’ll curdle
the eggs.) Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of
the milk and gently cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly .
When mixture starts to thicken enough to coat a wooden spoon, about
5-7 minutes, add the peach puree and cook for 3 minutes longer,
continuing to stir. Add the brandy and cook one minute more.
Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour until serving.
4. When serving, run a knife
around the sides of the meringue to loosen it and unmold onto a
large platter or large shallow bowl. The caramelized sugar syrup
that has formed will run down the sides of the meringue. Pour the
peach cream around the meringue. Serve garnished with toasted sliced
almonds and peaches, if you wish.