This August’s issue of Martha Stewart Living has a whole bunch of things I’ve never heard of before – buckles, slumps, and, what we’re focusing on today, spooms. Yes, spoom – not spoon. (The auto-correcter is trying to proof my apparent misspelling.) It turns out spoom was once a favourite dessert in England, according to Wikipedia, and it’s name derives from the Italian spuma (foam). It’s a kind of frothy sorbet, in which fruit is folded into an Italian meringue and frozen. Another way is to fold the meringue into the frozen sorbet, and freeze again.
Peach Melba is considered a classic dessert, being invented in the early 1890’s by Auguste Escoffier, a French chef at the Savoy Hotel in London, to honour the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba, whom the chef was a fan of. The presentation of the newly created dessert in the soprano’s name was true theatre: Chef Escoffier used an ice sculpture of a swan (which featured in the opera) to present the dessert, which carried peaches that rested on a bed of vanilla ice cream and topped with spun sugar. Later, he would make a new version of the dessert with the peaches topped with a raspberry puree or sauce.
In the case of this version of Peach Melba, peaches and raspberries are used and in place of the ice cream, an Italian meringue is made before pureed raspberries and peaches are folded in and frozen. Italian meringue is a cooked meringue (sometimes done over a double boiler) so there is no risk about the consumption of raw egg, such as salmonella.
Before we get to the recipe, let me just mention that now in addition to a recipe index, you can also browse the archives. I’ll stumble across a blog and will spend hours after hours going backwards, reading backlogs of posts, to the very first post that started it all. (When you think about it, “stumbling” across a blog creates a very funny image.) This, of course, is time consuming and it can get cumbersome clicking “previous entries” or something to that effect, again and again, depending on how many posts there are. Another aspect is that, in my case, sometimes I remember a particular recipe based on when it was posted, i.e. what month, or I’ve forgotten what the recipe was called but I remember when it was posted and from there I can work it out. So, after that long round-about, allow me to introduce the Z’s Cup of Tea Archives, on one page. It’s organized by month, with the post count following in parentheses (just so you have an idea of how many posts you’ll be looking at).
Now without further ado –
Peach Melba Spoom
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2010
In Martha’s recipe, the egg whites are heated with the sugar over a pan of simmering water – basically a double boiler or baine marie – until the sugar dissolves and then whipped to stiff peaks. I wasn’t sure if honey would work the same way as it’s a liquid, so I made more syrup and made an Italian meringue.
Although I’ve suggested that it can make four to eight servings, depending on how much spoom is portioned per person and if there are any seconds, thirds, etc., you’ll still have a substantial amount of spoom leftover – which is also quite tasty just on its own.
This can be made with or without an ice cream maker.
Serves 4 to 8
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup + 1/3 cup honey
5 peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved and pitted
3 cups (12 ounces) raspberries
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Syrup: Bring water and 1/4 cup honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Fruit puree: Slice three of the peaches (if you prefer, you may peel* peaches as well) and puree with half the raspberries (1 1/2 cups or 6 ounces) and 1/4 cup of the syrup in a food processor or blender. You can also do this with a hand blender, in a tall container. Add more syrup to taste if required. Pour puree into a container (pouring first through a fine sieve to remove raspberry seeds and any other solids, if preferred) and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
Italian meringue: Beat egg whites in a large, metal bowl until soft peaks form. In the same saucepan you used earlier, bring remaining syrup (I had 1/4 cup) and 1/3 cup of honey to a boil, until it reaches soft ball stage or 200ºF on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Slowly dribble the syrup into the whites while whisking – if you don’t have a stand mixer and are doing this step by hand, you may want the assistance of a helper to pour in the syrup while you’re whisking so you don’t have to stop whisking to pour in the syrup, which is inefficient and breaks your flow. Eventually graduate from a dribble to a slow stream, all the while continuing to whisk. It will resemble the early stages of marshmallow. Whisk until medium-soft or stiff peaks form. (As you may notice in one photo, I didn’t exactly get stiff peaks but that’s all right.)
Spoom and assembly: Gently fold meringue into the fruit puree with a whisk or spatula – folding the meringue into the fruit rather than the other way around (folding fruit puree into meringue) helps prevent deflating air in the meringue. If you have an ice cream maker, process the spoom according to manufacturer’s instructions, or just skip this step and pour into an airtight container (or in my case, a stainless steel mixing bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap) and freeze for up to 1 hour or until firm enough to scoop, depending on how deep your container is. (Mine separated for some reason, with most of the “foam” on top but it still tasted great!) Slice the remaining two peaches, using a quarter of a peach per serving. Crush the rest of the raspberries or leave them whole, and layer fruit with spoom in glasses or bowls. Enjoy!
[Tip] *Depending on how soft and ripe your peaches are, you can easily peel off the skin with a knife or with your fingers, without any of the fruit coming away with the skin. The skin should just “fall off”.