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Chef’s Best: Asperitas inspires lofty, billowy meringue dessert

  • Whipped cream, roiled dark with blueberry mash, makes for a dramatic dessert, one worthy of its stunning namesake, asperitas clouds.



Chicago Tribune
Thursday, April 20, 2017

The cloud, in iconic form, drifts white and puffy. Annoying the professional. The International Cloud Atlas recognizes 10 genera, 15 species and nine varieties. Way more precise than “that one looks like a duck.”

Now we’ve got a new cloud (OK, supplementary feature): asperitas. Perhaps it’s long been lurking overhead. But it wasn’t until the Cloud Appreciation Society took up its cause that the rare formation landed a rare honor: an addition to the atlas.

Asperitas is hard to miss. It’s an ominous, roiling cloud, all wake and chop. Staring up at its face feels like falling into rough seas. Indeed, asperitas means rough. It’s a magnificent effect.

In appreciation of the Cloud Appreciation Society, why not construct an asperitas pavlova? Meringue, which tethers the tart, eagerly heaves into crests and troughs. As does whipped cream, which surfs the top. Roiled dark with blueberry mash, it’s a dramatic dessert, one worthy of its stunning namesake.

ASPERITAS PAVLOVA

Prep: 30 minutes

Bake: 1 hour

Wait: 1 hour

Makes: 8 servings

Meringue:

4 egg whites at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 pinch salt

1 cup sugar

Berries:

12 ounces fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Cream:

1 pint heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Prep: Press a large square of parchment paper into a 9-inch round cake pan, lining bottom and sides, leaving some overhang. Heat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Whip: For meringue, slide egg whites into mixer bowl. Drop in vanilla, cream of tartar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, whip frothy, about 30 seconds. Still whipping, slowly cascade in sugar to form glossy, sturdy peaks, 2-3 minutes.

3. Bake: Scrape meringue into the prepared pan and spread out. No need to level the surface; revel in the undulating topography. Bake until the top is golden and feels crisp to the touch (center will be soft), 1 hour. Turn off heat, and let meringue cool in the oven, at least 1 hour.

4. Mash: For berries, tumble half the berries into a large saucepan. Stir in sugar and zest. Cook over medium-high heat, mashing into a purple sauce, about 3 minutes. Stir in cornstarch slurry; let thicken, 30 seconds. Stir in remaining whole berries. Let cool.

5. Whip: For cream, whip cream, sugar and vanilla to soft peaks.

6. Build: Grasping parchment, pull meringue out of pan, and peel off parchment. Just before serving, slide berries into cream and fold gently once or twice, leaving bold streaks of white and purple. Heap berry cream onto meringue. Admire. Slice and serve.