Happy New Year!
I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday.
Those of you who follow Chocolate Chilli Mango on Instagram will know that I have been manically working on my chocolate business over recent months. The time had come to get serious about it all or drop it altogether. So I got serious about it all because I’ve always been serious about it. It’s been a wild ride with incredibly long hours and no days off, many frustrations, but totally worth every second. I love working with chocolate and creating new flavours. The best part is when customers come back to tell you just how much they enjoy them and which ones are their favourites. It’s been really tough but wonderful. But I am so glad I now have all my systems and processes in place on which to build the business and I can now mentally relax a bit to focus on growing it in 2016 and also devoting time to my other love, which is this blog and, of course, sharing recipes.
If you’re a Melbourne local and would like to find out more, you can subscribe to the CCM Chocolate Newsletter. I send out only details of where I’ll have my pop up shop and what chocolate goodies will be on offer.
For those of you into your health and fitness, I was disciplined enough to keep my diet in check but my training sadly was increasingly sacrificed until I realised there was no point in getting dressed for the gym when the chance of me going was less than zero 🙁 I confess this was really hard to deal with. I missed my training and I am glad to be getting back to it this week. I’m already sore all over and I haven’t started any heavy lifting yet! Ay carumba. The only way is up!
Since Christmas I have spent time clearing the decks and doing some spring cleaning and taking a little time out to recharge. It’s been really hot here in Melbourne and so I have tried to avoid using my oven (which is still in need of a magician to fix it). So it has been gelato and jellies and yoghurt based desserts for us here. Shooting gelato in the heat was something I could not face so for my first post I want to share with you something we’ve come to enjoy. It’s healthy, light, and perfect for getting over the indulgences of the holidays. Verrines are a gorgeous dessert and I love making them as a special dessert, with decadent ingredients. But if you are watching your diet, or diabetic, or otherwise just trying to cut down on your sugar intake, you can still have a treat that is amazing. Less rich than most verrines, these ones are perfect for summer. A combination of yoghurt panna cotta subtly flavoured with honey and orange blossom over a raspberry jelly.
All you need is some mixed berries and mini meringues to decorate and voilà, dessert is served. The meringues add texture and crunch, taste amazing, and they look really pretty. Plus, these sugar-free meringues are pretty much just little shots of protein. If you eat a few, that is, because these mini ones each barely have any calories in them at all.
Normally, I’d make my own jelly with fresh fruit, gelatine, and sugar (or Natvia for a sugar-free version). Sometimes, I just don’t have the fruit handy when the whim takes me, as happened on this occasion. Raspberries don’t last long in this house. I love my raspberries 🙂 So to save time and a trip to the fruit shop or market, I’ll pluck out a sachet of sugar-free jelly crystals. Don’t judge me. I love to make everything from scratch, you know this. But it is good to have a Plan B. I generally go for Aeroplane Lite Jelly. For those of you in the US, sugar-free Jell-O is a good substitute. Just make sure that you use enough to make up a 500 gram (17.64 ounces) batch of jelly.
I give instructions in the recipe to achieve the diagonal effect with the panna cotta and jelly. However, you can simply layer the verrine horizontally, as in the photo below. I’ve used this only as an example and there are two things to take note of in this photo. Firstly, you should have equal amounts of panna cotta and jelly in each glass. Secondly, note the bubbles on top of the panna cotta. I whisked the panna cotta mixture vigorously to create those to show you what NOT to do. Before filling the serving glasses, make sure there are few, if any, bubbles on top of the panna cotta. The top should be smooth and froth free. Why does it matter? Texture and mouthfeel. The frothiness detracts from the silky texture of the panna cotta in a big way.
That’s it. Let’s get to the recipe!
This dessert is something that has to be made in stages, but can be made well ahead. Make the batch and then simply remove from the fridge and decorate before serving. If making it for yourself, you have dessert for several days at the ready.
Using packaged jelly crystals takes a few extra steps out of the process and is also a good shortcut when you find yourself all out of fruit to make your fruit jelly. It's a lovely change from just plain jelly and the macros are fantastic. The pannacotta adds some welcome protein to this dessert.
The meringues add texture and crunch, and more protein! It is also exceptionally pretty as well as delicious and light. Perfect for summer.
This recipe makes many more meringues than you will need. You can pipe out the number you need of mini ones and then pipe out some larger meringue mounds, discs or nests. Keep them to munch on, sandwich with chocolate, or fill with yoghurt and fruit for a refreshing light dessert.
1 x 9 gram sachet Aeroplane Jelly Lite - Raspberry Flavour (makes 500 grams/17.64 oz)
6 grams (0.21 oz) gelatine leaves
250 grams (8.82 oz) skim milk
15 grams (0.53 oz) honey (orange blossom or other floral variety is best)
250 grams (8.82 oz) non-fat thick Greek yoghurt*
5 grams orange blossom water
66 grams (2.33 oz) egg whites, room temperature
132 grams (4.66 oz) Natvia Icing Mix*
pink food colouring (optional)
Place the contents of the raspberry jelly sachet into a medium bowl.
Add 250 grams of boiling water and whisk until the jelly crystals are completely dissolved.
Add 250 grams of cold water and whisk again.
Divide the jelly between serving glasses. How many serves will depend on the size of each glass.
For example, for 4 serves, allow 125 grams jelly per serve.
Place in the refrigerator to set. This will take several hours. I prefer to make this the night before and let it set overnight.
For the pannacotta, soak the gelative leaves in cold water to soften, for about five to six minutes.
Place the milk and honey into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the honey.
When the milk begins to simmer, remove it from the heat.
Squeeze out the water from the softened gelatine and add the gelatine to the milk, whisking to dissolve the gelatine completely. There should be no lumps.
Set the milk mixture aside to cool.
Place the yoghurt into a medium bowl with the orange blossom water and whisk to combine.
When the milk has cooled, add it slowly to the yoghurt and stir until smooth.
Do not whisk aggressively as this will cause tiny bubbles and froth on the surface. Tap the bowl on the bench a few times to remove excess bubbles.
When the jelly is fully set, pour the cool panna cotta over the jelly in each glass. Again, divide the mixture evenly. You will need about 125 grams if making four large serves, for example.
Place back in the refrigerator, covered, and allow to set.
Again, this will take several hours.
Preheat the oven to 100C/212F.
Line a large baking sheet with silicone baking paper or a Silpat sheet.
Make sure your mixing bowl is squeaky clean and dry before starting.
The egg whites should be at room temperature in order to achieve maximum volume.
Place the egg whites and the Natvia in the bowl and whisk on low speed until frothy.
Increase speed to medium and whisk until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be stiff enough to hold its shape when you raise the whisk attachment.
If you wish to colour the meringues, add a drop or two of food colouring to the mix and whisk on medium speed until the meringue is evenly coloured. I usually give the meringue a final whisk at high speed just for 20 seconds or so at the end.
Scrape the meringue mixture carefully into a piping bag fitted with whatever favourite piping tip you prefer. To make mini meringues, pipe small mounds or swirls (or roses, whatever) on to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 100C/212F, with the oven door slightly ajar, for about 60 - 90 minutes, until completely dried out. They should be crisp on the outside and melt in your mouth when you bite into them.
Decorate each verrine with fresh berries, mini meringues and anything else you wish to add. You can add edible flowers, chocolate, nuts, whatever takes your fancy.
Undecorated verrines will keep for several days, covered, in the refrigerator.
Leftover meringues will keep for several days, stored airtight, at room temperature.
You could add some fresh raspberries to the serving glasses before filling with the jelly so that they will be suspended in the jelly. It gives a pretty effect.
To achieve the diagonal effect with the jelly and panna cotta, simply place the serving glasses in a dish, resting on their side, on an angle. Fill almost to the lip of the glass with jelly, and let the jelly set in that position. When fully set, and you are ready to fill the glasses with the panna cotta, you can stand the glasses upright.
I’ve included macros for both the verrines, including the panna cotta and jelly, as well as the meringues, separately.
For each one, you will find the breakdown for the full recipe (1 serving) as well as for some serving sizes. That way, if you make smaller or larger servings, you can simply use the full recipe details divided by the number of servings.
Raspberry and Yoghurt Verrines
Sugar Free Meringues
I have not included the breakdown for the mini meringues. I made a batch of 56 mini meringues but the number you make will depend on what piping tip you use. Simply use the full recipe divided by the number of meringues you make or by weight.