Monday, September 2, 2013

What on Earth is a Vacherin?

Folks, I'm glad you're at your computer, because this means you're sitting down.  And that's the perfect place to be when you hear shocking news, right?  Well here's a dessert that looks like this:

yet is unbelievably easy to make.  In fact, you can't really call this baking.  It's more like assembling.  And you will love it!  Your guests will go wild and you will want to make these again and again.  I have de-constructed this French wonder to make it as simple as possible. Basically it has layers of EASY meringue, and then decadent fillings.  You can go as tall as you like with the layers

Or make it a rectangle, the way they do cakes in Europe.  Doesn't matter.

First of all, how do you pronounce Vacherin?  In the U.S. we see that and want to say, "Vacka-rin."  But I have consulted with one of my French-speaking sons (I have three) and was told the ch makes a shhh sound, the a is ahh, and the n is silent.  So it's vosha-rah.  That last part is tricky, because it has the short A sound, as in "ran," but without the n.  Okay, enough pronouncing, time to eat!  Here's what you need:

5 egg whites
1 & 1/4 Cup granulated sugar

First Filling:
1 (8 oz.) tub whipped topping, thawed
1/2 Cup seedless raspberry jam (or any jam you like.  Or lemon curd.  Or caramel. Or apricot jam.  Or strawberry puree. Or peanut butter.)

Second Filling:
1/4 Cup chocolate chips
1/4 Cup cream cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
1 (8 oz.) tub whipped topping, thawed

OR... just use chocolate frosting mixed with whipped topping.  OR... chocolate whipped topping.  You get the idea here, right?  Use whatever fillings you like.  Stir in little Heath Bar chunks.  Whatever.

Powdered sugar (or cocoa)

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Beat egg whites until very foamy.  Beat in sugar until meringue is stiff.  When you lift the beaters out, it will make points, not soft peaks.  Spread this meringue into circles or hearts, on parchment, on baking sheets.  I made thick ones, but you can make more if you make them thinner.

Be sure you make the top one fancy, because it will show.  Lattice, swirls, whatever.  You can put the meringue in a Zip-Loc bag, snip off one corner, and use that to pipe the meringue if you don't have a pastry bag. OR JUST MAKE IT ANOTHER CIRCLE, and then cover it completely later, with whipped cream and berries!  Now bake them with the oven door ajar, for 1 hour.  Cool completely.

2. Make the fillings.  For the first one, just stir the jam into the whipped cream.  For the second one, microwave the chips, cheese, and butter, until melty and smooth, then stir in the whipped topping and chill.

3. Assemble your layers.

 Put a baked meringue on a cake plate, cover with a filling, then top with the 2nd meringue and cover with a filling.  How much easier could this be?  If you want to add layers, just make extra meringues and stack it higher, using half as much filling atop each one (or make more filling).  Add berries here as well, if you like, or save them for just the top.

Top it with your lattice meringue, pile on berries then sift powdered sugar over all.

Slice and serve!  The meringue will be light and crispy, a perfect contrast to the creamy fillings.  Delish.  AND you can make little individual ones, too.
Okay, one last variation-- you can make chocolate meringue just by adding 1/4 cup cocoa.  Ooh-la-la!

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