I’ll be assembling a few of these meringue and gingerbread wreath with fig and raspberry ice cream as Christmas-table centrepieces before dinner starts, and scooping on some ice cream when it’s time for dessert.
Meringue and gingerbread wreath with fig and raspberry ice cream
Fig & raspberry ice cream
- 300ml double-thick cream
- 300ml full-cream milk
- 120g castor sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla essence
- pinch salt
- 100g raspberries, blitzed together with 1 fig to a purée
- butter, to grease
- 190g cake flour
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) ground ginger
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon
- 1,25ml (¼ tsp) ground allspice
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch salt
- 60g butter, softened
- 70g demerara sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 125ml (½ cup) molasses
- 5ml (1 tsp) apple cider vinegar
- 125ml (½ cup) boiling water
- 6 shop-bought meringues, roughly crushed
- 10 strawberries, some left whole and others halved
- 125g fresh raspberries
- small handful blueberries, dusted in edible gold dust
- 3 fresh figs, some halved and others quartered
- small handful fresh mint leaves
- 50g roasted and salted almonds
- edible gold leaf (optional)
For the ice cream, pour the cream, milk and half of the castor sugar into a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until just before boiling point. Remove from heat and set aside for a moment.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the remaining castor sugar and beat until thick and pale.
Pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks and beat to combine. Return the mixture to the pot and cook over very low heat, stirring continuously, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Ensure it doesn’t boil – if it is about to boil, remove from heat and stir continuously, then return to the heat.
Combine the custard with the vanilla essence, salt and fruit purée. Refrigerate to cool, about 1 hour.
Once the mixture has cooled, churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, if an ice-cream maker is not available, place the mixture in a freezer-proof container in the freezer and whisk every hour to break up any ice crystals that may form, until frozen.
For the gingerbread, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm-square baking tin with butter and line the base.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt.
Using an electric beater, cream the 60g butter and demerara sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until smooth.
Combine the molasses, vinegar and boiling water in a bowl and mix well. Gradually stir this mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the gingerbread to cool completely, before slicing in half through the middle. Cut into star shapes using a star cutter or break into chunks.
You can either assemble your wreath on a large platter or form smaller wreaths on 6 individual plates. Place either star cut-outs or chunks of gingerbread in a wreath formation. Next, add the crushed-meringue pieces, strawberries, raspberries, golden blueberries, figs and mint leaves to complete the wreath shape. If desired, press edible gold leaf onto the almonds and arrange on the wreath.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Just before serving, top the wreath with scoops of softened ice cream (large scoops on a large wreath and smaller scoops made using a melon baller for individual servings).
If you’re pressed for time, simply buy a pre-made gingerbread loaf instead of making your own.