Christophe Loeffel, pastry chef of Maison Décotterd in Glion-sur-Montreux, Switzerland, combines the meringue-and-double-cream duo with tangy, spicy flavors that bring it a marvelously festive winter touch.
Christophe Loeffel tends to be inspired by simple things and combinations of ingredients that might appear ordinary. Such is the case for his festive dessert—crispy meringue, acidulous green apple and Christmas spices—which is guaranteed to enhance a family feast. “I love meringue with double cream,” the pastry chef enthuses. “That ingredient combination is simple yet delicious, and it is an integral part of the culinary traditions of the Gruyère District in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. It simply can’t be beat!” In his view, the fusion of the smooth cream with crispy meringue forms the ideal base for a winter dessert with a special touch. Of course, he focuses on local ingredients: “Maison Décotterd always works with a short supply chain. Since we do not use exotic fruits, we highlight local seasonal products, as they deserve attention.”
In his recipe, a green Granny Smith apple from one of the region’s farms becomes a tangy fruit topping. “I always try to use the entire fruit and to present it in different ways. In this case, I opted for a gelatin and a filling of fresh apple cubes to tickle the tastebuds with various textures.” The silkiness of double cream, the sweetness of the meringue and the tanginess of the apple are also enhanced by the flavor of gingerbread—the ultimate Christmas taste, in Christophe’s opinion—which further elevates the dessert. “In this dessert, spices play the same role as salt in a savory dish. And the tender cake is pure delight!”
The chef’s recommendation: you might appreciate a slice of this gingerbread loaf simply on its own, at snack time, with a cup of coffee. It goes without saying that the ideas of this creative chef—winner of the Swiss Pastry Chef of the Year 2021 title by Gault & Millau—will continue to surprise us.
Crispy meringue, acidulous green apple and Christmas spices
- 90g egg whites
- 180g sugar
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric beater. Once the egg whites are very foamy, add the sugar, slowly sprinkling it in. Continue to beat the mixture until the peaks fold like bird’s beaks, then place the meringue in a pastry bag. Form the meringues into large domes on silicone molds using the pastry bag. Bake in a ventilated oven at 194° F for approximately one and a half hours. Leave to stand at room temperature, then remove the molds.
Double Gruyère cream (whipped double cream)
- 100g cream with (35% fat content)
- 70g double cream
Whip the two kinds of cream together, until firm, using a whisk. Place the mixture in a pastry bag with a fluted piping tip.
- 1 green Granny Smith apple
Wash and cut half of the green apple into cubes. Set the remaining apple aside to garnish the dessert.
Green apple gelatin
- 200g freshly pressed green Granny Smith juice
- Juice of half a lemon
- 10g sugar
- 3g agar-agar
Combine the green apple juice, sugar and agar-agar together and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Add the lemon juice. Pour the preparation into a baking sheet with raised edges or a round plating ring. Cover with cling film. Chill the gelatin in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set it, then cut out circles.
- 300g water
- 300g honey
- 140g sugar
- 2g salt
- 4g aniseed
- 5g five-spice mixture (a traditional Asian mixture particularly used in southern Chinese and Vietnamese cookery: Sichuan pepper, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and fennel.)
- 6g cinnamon
- 300g flour
- 20g baking powder
- 200g melted butter
Heat the water, honey, spices and butter in a saucepan. Combine the flour and baking powder. Sift the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir with a whisk. Chill this dough in the refrigerator for an entire afternoon.
Place the dough in a loaf pan and bake for one hour in a ventilated oven preheated to 347 °F. Turn the gingerbread loaf out of the pan and cool it on a wire rack.
Cut the gingerbread into cubes.
Arrange an apple gelatin cut-out on each plate. Fill each meringue shell with apple and gingerbread cubes, place it atop a gelatin cut-out, and top it with whipped cream. Garnish with pieces of green apple and gingerbread, and sprinkle five-spice over the plate.