CHRISTMAS MESS

Mark Hix

Mark Hix

9th December 2013

CHRISTMAS MESS

Cranberries, in the form of a sauce or jelly, are synonymous with Christmas dinner, though these tart red berries are worthy of more than being just an adjunct to the turkey.  Like chestnuts, they lend themselves to a host of savoury dishes and interesting desserts, such as this lovely meringue concoction, which is loosely based on an Italian monte bianco.  You don’t need to go to the trouble to making fresh meringues, there are plenty of good ready-made meringues on the market that are suitable for this dish.Credits: recipes from Mark Hix: The Collection by Mark Hix, published by Quadrille Publishing, priced at £25. Photography by Jason Lowe.

Ingredients

  • 40-50 fresh or vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 500ml double cream
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 150-200g meringue
  • For the cranberry sauce
  • 200g fresh cranberries
  • 90g sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • juice of 1 orange
  • serves 8

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. If using fresh chestnuts, make an incision in the top of each with a small sharp knife and place them on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool.
Meanwhile for the sauce, put the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and orange juice into a heavy-based saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes until the cranberries have softened. Discard the cinnamon. Taste the sauce and add a little more sugar if necessary. Leave to cool.
Peel the chestnuts, removing as much of the brown skin as you possibly can. Place the cooked or vacuum-packed nuts on a foil-lined baking tray and dust with icing sugar. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them every so often. Remove and set aside to cool.
Whip the cream and caster sugar together in a bowl until very thick, using an electric whisk if you wish.
To assemble, break the meringue into pieces and fold into the cream with about two-thirds of the cold cranberry sauce and two-thirds of the chestnuts. Pile onto the centre of individual serving plates. Scatter the remaining chestnuts on top and spoon the rest of the cranberry sauce over. Serve at once.