Tradition has dictated that Christmas Pudding is served at the Big Lunch. However, many people find it too heavy, and health & safety advice is not to put coins in it anyway, as someone may swallow them. With this dessert, guests can help themselves to as much or as little as they wish, which is often appreciated by people with differing appetites.
This butterscotch meringue mountain is a wonderful substitute. It is easy to make, and has three components. The meringues can be made a day or two in advance and kept in an airtight tin, the butterscotch sauce can be made the day before, and the cream can be whipped a few hours before lunch. Then all that’s needed is to assemble the great creation just before serving.
This is a particular favourite with children, who love to help putting the mountain together at the last minute.
The recipe serves 8-10, and makes about 54 small meringues, so it could be halved for a smaller gathering. Details for the three components are given separately in case they are to be made at different times.
Recipe for Butterscotch Meringue Mountain
To Make the Meringues:
- 4 medium egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- Put the egg whites in a large bowl, making sure the bowl is completely free of grease and there are no traces of yolk, otherwise the whites won’t stiffen. Using an electric beater, whip the egg whites until very stiff and upright peaks stay absolutely in place as the beater is lifted out.
- Add 115g of the sugar, and beat again until stiff as before.
- Add the remaining sugar and fold in gently.
- Cover two large baking sheets with baking parchment (or lightly oiled greaseproof), and use a teaspoon to place 1 dollop of meringue each time over them. They don’t need to be far apart, as they won’t rise while cooking.
- Dry out in a cool oven, 90-100C, for about 70 minutes. If they are already browning they can come out, but otherwise turn off the oven and leave them in until cold.
- If not to be served at that time, store in an airtight tin.
To Make the Butterscotch Sauce
- 300ml single cream
- 8 tablespoons golden syrup
- 110g soft brown sugar
- 50g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or essence)
- Heat the cream, syrup and sugar in a pan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 3 minutes. Add the butter and vanilla, and stir over the heat until the butter has melted and blended in.
For the Cream
- Beat 600ml double cream until very stiff.
To Assemble and Serve the Butterscotch Meringue Mountain
- On a round serving plate (dinner plate size), place a layer of the meringues.
- Spread some of the cream over them.
- Warm the sauce slightly so that it will pour, and drizzle a little over the meringues.
- Add another, slightly smaller layer of meringues, then cream and sauce as above.
- Continue until a single meringue is left to be placed at the top of the mountain.
- Pour a little more sauce on top, leaving some.
- Carry the mountain to the table ceremonially, and serve the remaining warm sauce separately.
Use chocolate sauce instead of butterscotch: place 225g broken up dark chocolate in a small pan with 55g butter, 8 tablespoons of single cream, and 4 tablespoons of golden syrup. Heat very gently, stirring, until the chocolate has melted – don’t allow it to get anywhere near boiling.
This Butterscotch Meringue Mountain dessert is a showstopper. It’s easy to prepare the components, which can be made in advance, and great fun to assemble just before serving. It’s ideal to serve at Christmas lunch, but also at any other celebration, and is a delicious alternative to traditional Christmas pudding.