These Meringues with Berries and Vanilla Creme Fraiche couldn't be simpler to make or prettier to eat! Save this recipe for whenever you have leftover egg whites.
The other day I had a serious cooking failure.
I would love to say that everything in my kitchen turns out just oh-so-perfectly each and every time but it just isn't reality. And even when things aren't complete failures, often times recipes need to be made over and over again, until the flavor and texture come out just right.
Last week's failure was a simple chocolate mousse – one that I'd already made several times and was in final stages of recipe completion. The recipe is solid, I just wasn't paying enough attention and the chocolate seized on me. Which meant it wouldn't turn into a silky, luscious mousse but would instead be a grainy mess – still tasty but definitely not something to serve. I was feeling frustrated that I was out of ingredients for another go at it and annoyed with myself for being careless…and that's when I spied the leftover egg whites sitting on my counter.
I decided that instead of wasting time crying over seized chocolate I would dive straight into another dessert. And I knew immediately what it would be: pillowy meringues with berries and vanilla crème fraiche. Oh yes, I was suddenly smiling again.
I had all of the ingredients on hand already: egg whites (leftover from the chocolate mousse failure), crème fraiche that I'd made the day before for another recipe and the vanilla bean with which to flavor it, as well as fresh summer berries I'd picked up at the farmer's market that morning. My plan for the berries had been to simply to eat them straight up, but making meringues with berries and vanilla crème fraiche seemed like a much better fate for such beautiful berries.
I absolutely love making little meringues. Sometimes I'll make them bite-sized just for fun or I'll spread it out to make one large pie-sized. And sometimes, as in this case, individual dessert-sized is perfect.
Although the name of this dessert sounds fancy – meringues with berries and vanilla crème fraiche – and looks so pretty that you almost won't want to eat it – don't let that fool you. There are very few ingredients and it couldn't be easier to put together. You will need some time, however, as the meringues need to sit in the oven overnight and the crème fraiche will benefit from spending some quality time with the vanilla. The good news is that assembly will take just minutes once the components are ready to go so it does make a perfect make-ahead dessert. Feel free to substitute sweetened, freshly whipped cream for the vanilla crème fraiche if you prefer; I love the crème fraiche because it contrasts nicely with the sweet meringue but either will certainly work.
I've always thought meringues of any kind are the perfect ending to a brunch, bridal or baby shower or a summer dinner party. Elegant and easy, my favorite kind of recipe.
meringues with fresh summer berries & vanilla creme fraiche
This is an easy dessert to prepare and is a great way to use leftover egg whites.
- 4 large egg whites (room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- 1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
- raspberries (blueberries & blackberries)
- fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)
For the meringues:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed until frothy. Add the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating on high speed until the egg whites form very stiff peaks and meringue is thick and glossy.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1/3 cup measure, place meringues on parchment paper and form with a spoon (spreading out slightly and forming a small well for berries). Place in oven then immediately turn oven off. Leave meringues in oven overnight (no opening the oven to peek).
For the creme fraiche:
- Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and stir into creme fraiche. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to blend.
- Place a large tablespoon of creme fraiche into the well of each meringue. Top with fresh berries and a mint sprig. Serve meringues with extra creme fraiche and berries on the side.