Midsummer Meringue Crowns: Marängkrans
Rachel Khoo's Swedish meringue crowns are inspired by the floral crowns worn during Midsummer celebrations. Delicate and beautifully decorated, they make for a beautiful summery dessert.
Long before Coachella and other music festivals made it hip to wear flower crowns, the Swedes were making their midsommarkrans.
Going out on the morning of midsummer celebrations to collect local wild flowers and weaving them together into a crown is a tradition that stems from wanting to harness nature’s magic, in the hope that wearing a beautiful flower crown will bring good health for the rest of the year. My experience of making crowns isn’t exactly Martha Stewart worthy, so I’m not going to demonstrate how to make one in these pages.
However, when it comes to making the edible kind, that’s a completely different story.
|2||medium egg whites (60g), at room temperature|
|2–3 drops||of lemon juice|
|2 tbsp||icing sugar, sifted|
|1 tsp||lemon zest|
|a few||strawberries (small ones are best), blueberries, lingonberries or other berries|
|elderflowers, rose petals, pansies or other edible flowers|
|fresh mint sprigs or strawberry leaves|
You will need: 2 piping bags, with a petal nozzle and a 1cm nozzle (nozzles optional).
Preparation time: 45 minutes. Baking time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.
Sprinkle the sugar on to a tray lined with baking paper. Put into the oven for about 10 minutes, until the sugar just begins to melt around the edges.
In the meantime, whisk the egg whites until soft and frothy with an electric or free-standing mixer. Squeeze in the lemon juice. When the sugar is ready, turn the speed on the mixer up to high and tip in the sugar slowly, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to whisk until the meringue is thick, glossy, has cooled down and the sugar is fully incorporated. Spoon into a piping bag with a petal nozzle, or cut a diagonal 1.5cm opening in a corner of your piping bag (keeping the slit facing upwards).
Turn the oven down to its lowest setting, about 70°C/fan 50°C/gas ½. (You don’t want the meringue to colour at all.)
Draw four 10cm circles on to a sheet of baking paper, leaving as much space as possible between them. Cut the sheet into 4 pieces, so you are left with 4 rectangles with a circle on each one. Pipe along the edge of the circle, using small circular movements, to create waves (see Top tips). Turn the piece of paper while you’re piping. Place the meringues on a baking tray and bake for 1½ hours, or until crisp on the outside and the meringue peels off without sticking to the paper.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar and lemon zest until it forms soft to firm peaks. Decant into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle or snip a 1cm opening in your bag. Pipe small dollops on top of the cooled meringue and decorate with the berries, flowers and leaves.
Top tips / If you find the piping technique too complicated, simply pipe a thick ring of meringue.
Make sure the flowers you use have not beensprayed and are safe for human consumption.
Get ahead / The meringues can be kept in an airtight container for a couple of days. Assemble just before serving or the cream will soften the meringue.