A Meringue of Rhubarb, or Green Gooseberries

Method

Weigh a pound of delicate young rhubarb-stems after they have been carefully pared and cut into short lengths; mix eight ounces of pounded sugar with them, and stew them gently until they form a smooth pulp; then quicken the boiling, and stir them often until they are reduced to a tolerably dry marmalade. When the fruit has reached this point turn it from the pan and let it stand until it is quite cold. Separate the whites of four fresh eggs carefully from the yolks, and whisk them to a froth sufficiently solid to remain standing in points when it is dropped from the whisk or fork. Common cooks sometimes fail entirely in very light preparations from not properly understanding this extremely easy process, which requires nothing beyond plenty of space in the bowl or basin used, and regular but not violent whisking until the eggs whiten, and gradually assume the appearance of snow. No drop of liquid must remain at the bottom of the basin, and the mass must be firm enough to stand up, as has been said, in points. When in this state, mingle with it four heaped table-spoonsful of dry sifted sugar, stir these gently together, and when they are quite mixed, lay them lightly over the rhubarb in a rather deep tart-dish. Place the meringue in a moderate oven and bake it for about half an hour, but ascertain, before it is served, that the centre is quite firm. The crust formed by the white of egg and sugar, which is in fact the meringue, should be of a light equal brown, and crisp quite through. If placed in an exceedingly slow oven, the underpart of it will remain half liquid, and give an uninviting appearance to the fruit when it is served. Unless the rhubarb should be very acid, six ounces of sugar will be sufficient to sweeten it for many tastes. It is a great improvement to this dish to diminish the proportion of fruit, and to pour some thick boiled custard upon it before the meringue is laid on.

Obs.—When gooseberries are substituted for spring-fruit, a pint and a half will be sufficient for this preparation, or even a smaller proportion when only one of quite moderate size is required. In the early part of their season they will be more acid even than the rhubarb, and rather more sugar must be allowed for them.

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