Pistachio and strawberry vacherin


  • Serves 8 - 10 people

This showstopper may look intimidating, but it's surprisingly very achievable when you break it down. The meringue discs, jelly and crème fraîche filling can all be made ahead, ready to assemble just before serving. As elegant as this looks, there's no elegant way to cut into it - smash it up and serve. Start this recipe a day ahead to make and set the jelly.

  • 750 gm strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 60 ml Grand Marnier
  • 100 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 600 gm crème fraîche
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • Champagne jelly
  • 320 ml pink Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 4 titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes
  • Pistachio meringue
  • 150 gm eggwhite (about 4)
  • 150 gm caster sugar
  • 150 gm icing sugar, sieved
  • 150 gm pistachio kernels, processed to a fine meal
  • Finely grated rind of ½ orange and ½ lemon
01   For Champagne jelly, bring Champagne to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, stir into Champagne to dissolve, pour into a small plastic container and refrigerate overnight to set. Dip container in a bowl of hot water, ease jelly away from sides with your fingertips and invert onto baking paper. Cut into 1.5cm cubes with a wet knife and refrigerate until required.
02   For pistachio meringue, preheat oven to 100C and line 3 baking trays with baking paper. Whisk eggwhite, caster sugar and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until firm peaks form (6-7 minutes), fold in icing sugar, pistachios and rinds , then spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe meringue mixture in concentric circles to form three 20cm diameter rounds on prepared trays and bake, swapping trays partway through cooking, until crisp but not coloured (3-3½ hours). Turn off heat and cool completely in oven. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
03   Combine strawberries in a bowl with orange juice, 40ml Grand Marnier and 2 tbsp icing sugar, and set aside to macerate (20 minutes).
04   Meanwhile, whisk yolks and remaining Grand Marnier in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and pale (3-4 minutes), then place in an electric mixer and whisk until cooled completely (6-8 minutes). Whisk crème fraîche, vanilla and remaining icing sugar in a bowl until firm peaks just form, fold in egg yolk mixture and refrigerate until required.
05   To assemble, place a meringue disc on a serving plate, spoon half the crème fraîche mixture over evely, scatter with a third of the strawberries, then top with another meringue disc. Spread with remaining crème fraîche mixture, top with half the remaining strawberries, then finish with remaining meringue disc and top with remaining strawberries, jelly cubes and chopped pistachios. This is best served within 20 minutes of assembling.
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