With the Holidays upon us, here’s an incredibly delicious recipe that will also serve as a beautiful and festive centerpiece on your dessert table! Pillowy French meringue, tart and slightly sweet cranberry sauce and homemade whipped cream topped with fresh berries that look like they’re dusted with snow (spoiler alert: it’s powdered sugar). The flavours of sweet and tart, slightly crunchy and soft, paired with the freshness of the berries is *chef’s kiss*! This Christmas wreath is best served immediately upon assembly as meringue will begin to disintegrate once the cranberry sauce is added, so make it ahead by having the meringue and cranberry sauce ready in advance!
Hot tip: When making French meringue, the phrase to remember while baking is “low and slow”. Follow my instructions for baking perfect meringue, and then go ahead and leave it in the cooled oven with the door closed overnight. This will keep it well protected from any heat and humidity in your kitchen. Just remember to take it out before using your oven the next day!
Preheat your oven to 300F with a rack in the middle. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and draw a circle on one side in the approximate size you want your wreath to be and use it as a guide. Flip the parchment paper over so the writing is underneath (it will still be visible). Wipe down your stand mixer and whisk attachment with half a lemon to ensure there is no grease or fat residue. Add egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt to your mixer, and mix on med/low speed until frothy and reached soft peak stage. Sprinkle in sugar 1tbsp at a time, to ensure it dissolves and does not remain gritty. (If you don’t have superfine sugar on hand, you can blitz your granulated sugar in a food processor before using. Sprinkle in cornstarch. Increase speed to high and continue mixing until stiff peak stage. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip. Pipe a rosette onto the parchment paper, keeping the tip perpendicular to the baking sheet while moving your arm. Pipe a second layer following the circumference to create a hollow center for the whipped cream. This recipe will yield enough meringue for about 9 nests. Pipe next nest, ensuring they are gently touching each other to ensure the wreath stays intact when lifted off the baking sheet later. Place baking sheet in oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 250F. Bake for 1h15min. The nests will turn slightly cream coloured; dry on the outside but soft inside. Do not open the oven door during baking time. Turn the oven off, and leave the door closed for 1h longer. Finally, crack the oven door open and leave the meringue inside for 1h more. This is to bring the meringue very slowly to room temperature and prevent cracking.
In a medium/large saucepan, combine the frozen cranberries, powdered sugar, cornstarch and water over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer while gently mashing the cranberries as they burst and soften. Continue to simmer until sauce is of desired consistency, 10-15 minutes. You may not want to mash all the cranberries to have some larger pieces still intact. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely at room temperature. Keep in mind sauce will continue to thicken some as it cools.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the whipping cream and powdered sugar. Begin whisking on low-med speed for a few minutes, gradually increasing to high speed. Continue whisking on high speed until it reaches stiff peaks. Do not overwhip. Transfer cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M or open star tip (this is not necessary, but it makes it easier to control and neater for presentation).
Pipe whipping cream inside the nests and across the circumference of the entire wreath. Gently add fully cooled cranberry sauce on top, then decorate with berries and fresh mint leaves. Sift powdered sugar over the entire wreath to make it look like snow.
Recipe will yield a generous amount of meringue, enough for a wreath with a diameter of at least 9-10 inches and generous height. If desired, you can use leftover meringue to pipe little meringue kisses to bake at the same time.
Don’t cook the cranberry sauce for too long where it begins to congeal, it will look nice having it be a little runny with drips of red cranberry sauce along the wreath.
I'm Alina and I love making fabulous desserts. My goal is to teach you how to make delicious desserts from scratch to impress your guests, friends, and family!
Baking with Alina