Soft, marshmallow-like meringues sitting in a pond of crème Anglaise and then drizzled with sweet caramel make this a marriage of gentle flavours and creamy textures. This is a Parisian classic and, when executed properly, is a real treat.
First, make the crème Anglaise. Crush the pistachios, if using, in a food processor to make a paste. Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl for 5 minutes. Bring the milk to the boil in a pan. Off the heat, pour the milk into the beaten egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Return this to the pan and, over a very low heat, stir constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens, but do not allow to boil. Stir in the pistachio paste, if using, then strain the custard through a fine sieve and cool.
Now make the meringues. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with the salt until white and stiff. Add the sugar and whisk. Divide the mixture between six unlined ramekins (do not fear they will not come out) and microwave in a 650-700 watt microwave oven for 40-50 seconds until pillow-soft, like marshmallows. Leave to cool.
To make the caramel, heat the sugar in a pan with the water until it turns into a light caramel. Remove from the heat and cool.
Divide the crème Anglaise between 6 dessert dishes. Place a snowy meringue in the centre of each and drizzle over a trail of cold caramel sauce and, if using, a sprinkling of crushed pralines.
© 2009 Fran Warde. All rights reserved.