Recipe: Lauren Eldridge's poached cumquats with radicchio jam, brown sugar cremeux and salted meringue

Lauren Eldridge is the head pastry chef for the Van Haandel Group and its four venues: Stokehouse, Pontoon and Fatto in Melbourne; and Stokehouse Q in Brisbane.

SERVES FOUR

RADICCHIO JAM
100 g caster sugar
1 head of radicchio
170 g orange juice
65 g blackcurrant juice

METHOD Remove the core from the radicchio and cut the head into rough slices. Melt 85 grams of caster sugar in a large deep saucepan until it becomes dark brown. Once the dark caramel has formed, add the radicchio. It will seize the caramel slightly, but continue cooking and it will melt back down as the liquid leaves the radicchio. Once the leaves have wilted, add in the orange juice and blackcurrant juice. Cook the radicchio down until the liquid has reduced significantly and the leaves are soft. Add the remaining 15 grams of sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the mix in a high-speed blender before passing through a sieve. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

POACHED CUMQUATS
1 l water
750 g caster sugar
150 g cumquats, halved and deseeded

METHOD Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Store sugar syrup in the fridge until needed, or keep warm to use immediately. Place prepped cumquats in a saucepan and cover with warm sugar syrup. If the sugar syrup is pre-made, bring it to the boil so it is warm before pouring over the cumquats. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a cartouche and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the cumquats are translucent, but not falling apart. Transfer the cumquats and syrup to a container and leave to cool in the fridge.

BROWN SUGAR CREMEUX
500 g cream
80 g brown sugar
65 g caster sugar
5 gelatin leaves (gold strength)
250 g creme fraiche

METHOD Bloom the gelatin leaves in ice water. Combine the cream, brown sugar and caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to just-before-boiling. Add in the soaked gelatin and stir to dissolve. Pour in half of the creme fraiche and whisk together. Whisk in the other half and pass through a sieve into a container. Store in the fridge to set. Once set, place the mixture into a stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed to loosen. Transfer to a piping bag and store in the fridge until ready to use.

SALTED MERINGUE
100 g egg white
100 g caster sugar
75 g icing sugar, sifted
4 g table salt

METHOD Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer or with electric beaters until they start to foam. Gradually add the caster sugar. Once all of the caster sugar has been added, keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue forms firm peaks. You can test this by rubbing a small amount of meringue between your fingers to check for sugar granules. Combine the table salt and sifted icing sugar in a bowl. Use a spatula to fold the icing sugar and salt into the meringue. Line two large baking trays with non-stick paper. Spread the meringue onto the lined trays, about 2-3mm think (not too thick or too thin as it will not be able to bend once torched). Dry at 110 degrees for 1-2 hours on low fan, or overnight at 60 degrees. Once dry, break into random shaped pieces and store in an airtight container. If they become sticky before using, return them to the oven on low temperature to dry out again.

ASSEMBLY
1 tablespoon radicchio jam
10 cumquat halves
brown sugar cremeux
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
3 pieces of meringue

METHOD Place a tablespoon of radicchio jam onto the bottom of the bowl and spread into a circle. Top with 8-10 pieces of cumquat. Carefully pipe the brown sugar cremeux around the cumquats, covering them completely. Dust with a small amount of cocoa powder. Using a blow torch, carefully torch one side of the meringue. Working quickly and carefully, shape the meringue in your hand and leave to one side to set. Stick the meringue to the sides of the cremeux.