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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meringue with Brandied Peaches and Chai Tea Custard Sauce

This version of a pavlova features brandied peaches on clouds of meringue with Chai tea custard sauce. It is a full-flavored dessert that can fit into any diet, and the presentation is sure to delight your guests. In fact, try not to drool on the screen. Monday night we had a few friends over for dessert and board games. I wanted to serve something light and summery, but a bit unique. The result was a raving success. In this post I walk you through how this recipe was created, including the recipe and instructions.

I have been mastering meringue lately, so that seemed a natural base. When I went to the grocery store, fresh peaches and nectarines were on sale, so that seemed a natural topping. On Sunday we had gone to see a show at the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago, and before shows I love to go to a nearby tea shop, where I had a Chai Latte. Somehow the spiciness of the Chai seemed a natural pairing for the sweetness of the peaches.

I prepared the meringue base using a basic meringue recipe:

2 egg whites, room temperature (reserve yolks for the custard)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp almond (or vanilla) extract

For preparation instructions, see my previous posts on Adventures in Meringue and Orange Chocolate Meringues.

Serves 8. Nutritional information (per serving): 53 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 14 mg sodium

Next I prepared the peaches and apricots. What you'll need:

2 fresh peaches
3 fresh nectarines
1/2-1 oz brandy
1 Tbsp salted butter
Pinch salt

I sliced 2 peaches and 2 yellow nectarines (reserve one ripe nectarine). My fruit was slightly less ripe than I would have liked because I had purchased it that day. I sliced the fruit approximately 1/3 inch thick slices, and then halved the slices. Melt 1 Tbsp salted butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the fruit slices. Resist the urge to move the fruit around because we are working towards a carmelization of the sugars in the fruit (see the photo at left). Remove the fruit when they are lightly carmelized on one side but not too soft. Put in a bowl or container and set aside. Still off the heat, deglaze the fruit pan with 1/2-1 oz of brandy. (Deglazing is a process of removing the tasty carmelized bits in the pan, typically using alcohol). Stir the brandy in the pan until most of the carmelization is deglazed. Pour this sauce over the fruit.

Serves 8. Nutritional Information (per serving): 39 calories, 1.6 g fat, 1 g fiber, 30 mg sodium

Now comes the fun part: the chai tea custard sauce. I made this up as I went along, improvising from a custard tart recipe that I regularly make. Depending on the strength of your spices (spices lose their potency over time) you may need to increase the spices. Add what I have recommended, taste, and adjust accordingly.


1/2 C skim milk
2 black tea bags
2 egg yolks (reserved from meringue)
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp salted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 oz brandy


  • Pour your milk into a microwavable glass measure or a coffee cup. Microwave until warm, add the two tea bags, then allow to steep. This process should be begun before you work on the meringue and peaches, as it needs to be set aside to cool.

  • Once the milky tea is cooled, add to a sauce pan. Whisk together the egg yolks and whole egg. Add eggs to the cold milky tea. Whisk together well.

  • Add sugar and butter. Start a medium low flame under the pan and whisk constantly. If you heat over too high a flame or do not stir regularly the eggs may separate and congeal. As the sauce begins to thicken uniformly, you may increase the flame slightly to a moderate flame.

  • Add the spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg). Once the mixture has thickened substantially (approximately 10-15 minutes) taste. Add more spices, salt, or sugar to your taste.

  • Remove from the flame, pour into a condiments bottle (like the generic ketchup or mustard bottles) if you have one, or into a bowl. Refrigerate.

  • When you are ready to plate the dessert, remove the custard sauce from the refrigerator. Stir to loosen. Add brandy to thin the custard to a thick sauce consistency.

Serves 12. Nutritional Information (per serving): 40 calories, 3.1 g fat, 0 g fiber, 74 mg sodium

Note: The custard makes more servings than the meringue or peaches. The leftover custard is delicious as an ice-cream topping. You may also enjoy serving it warm over pancakes or waffles with fresh fruit for a unique breakfast.

To plate:

First, add the sauce in a decorative pattern, as above.
Then add the meringue on top of the sauce.
Add the carmelized peaches with the brandy deglazing sauce.
Add a few slices of fresh, very ripe nectarines.
Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
Garnish with optional Chai Sugar (below) if desired.

Chai Sugar:
1 tsp brown sugar
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dash cardamom
1 dash nutmeg
1 dash cloves

Mix well. Sprinkle over top of dessert.


Rebecca said...

I was wondering if there is a way to make the chai tea custard without using milk (preferably a substitute) because I would like to jar some and give it as a gift. I hope you don't mind, and thanks in advance (I will give credit that its your recipe)!

Erin said...

interesting question rebecca. the answer is that I am not entirely sure because I haven't tried. Also I lack experience with jarring, but I presume you want to actually can it to make it shelf stable? But I think the eggs would present an issue there as well. What about presenting it as a homemade mix? you could combo everything but the milk and eggs and then have them add milk, eggs and water (for the tea). or you could probably add powdered milk and then they'd just have to add eggs and water. But you would probably want to try it at home first, because my suggestions here havent been tested, and I dont want to lead you astray on a gift

Erin said...

by the way, I call this sauce custard because the ingredients have a classic custard base, but the flavors are much more concentrated because it is used in this recipe as an accent sauce. I would probably cut back on the spices a bit if you were intending to consume it in larger quantities as a stand-alone dessert.

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