During the Christmas festivities we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make elaborate meals with fancy desserts that take time and effort to make. Nothing wrong with that but per se but sometimes that effort and time means less time spent with family and friends, to enjoy the holiday. This dessert is perfect for those of us that want something delicious but also something that is quick and simple to prepare. If you've never made a meringue roulade before don't fret, they are fairly forgiving and as they are prone to the occasional crack, embrace them and forget about perfection, rustic is the name of the game with this recipe.
200g cranberries, fresh or frozen
75g caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
225g caster sugar
a few drops of lemon juice
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cornflour
4 tbsp flaked almonds
Orange Mascarpone Cream
250ml double cream
zest of 1 large orange
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).
To make the compote place the cranberries into medium sized saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Cook over a medium/high heat until the cranberries have released a lot of juice and it has reduced to a syrupy consistency, roughly 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a small container, cover, and refrigerate until needed. This compote is sharp from the cranberries and lemon juice but don't be tempted to add more sugar, the sweetness of the meringue and the creaminess of the mascarpone balance this out beautifully.
To make the roulade, lightly grease a 37x26cm rimmed baking tray (the exact size is not crucial but if you you go much smaller the meringue will be very thick and hard to roll and much bigger the meringue will be thin and will crack more than expected) and line with a piece of parchment paper allowing a little excess to go up the sides of the tray, the meringue will rise a little as it bakes and you don’t want to end up with the roulade glued to the rim of the tray. To make the roulade, place the egg whites into a large bowl and mix with an electric whisk on high speed until the egg white is foamy. Slowly add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Add the almond extract and cornflour and whisk briefly to combine. Spread the meringue evenly over the prepared baking tray and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned and feels firm to the touch, don't worry the meringue will be soft and pillowy underneath meaning it will be easy to roll.
Remove the roulade from the oven and immediately turn it out onto another sheet of parchment paper, peeling off what was the original lining. Allow the meringue to cool.
For the mascarpone filling, add the mascarpone and orange zest to a large bowl and beat together until the mascarpone is soft. In a separate bowl whisk the cream until it barely holds it shape. Fold the cream into the mascarpone in two or three additions, as you add the cream and mix it together the mixture should become a little stiffer, you want a soft cloud like mixture, that perfect light whipped cream consistency.
To assemble the roulade spread the cream evenly over the meringue and top with dollops of the compote, lightly swirling to combine. Gently roll the roulade into a tight spiral, using the parchment to help tease the meringue into shape. Don’t worry that the outside will crack a little, its part of the charm of a meringue roulade and perfection is overrated anyway.
To finish dust with a little icing sugar or top with a few extra cranberries. Serve on the day made, refrigerating until needed if not serving straight away.