Luminous things

Luminous things

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

The memory of running wild with lanterns is constructed around feelings of unconstrained happiness. For me, favourite tastes and colours can go a long way towards recapturing that elation. (For practical reasons of measuring, the amount of marshmallow buttons you will make here is far greater than required for the recipe. The excess can be stored for later use in an airtight container and enjoyed as bonbons or snacks.)

Marshmallow buttons


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 gelatine leaves
100ml elderflower liqueur
1 teaspoon liquid glucose
150g caster sugar
85g egg whites, (about 2 eggs)
80g icing sugar and 20 g cornflour, sifted together

Hazelnut meringue

Quantity Ingredient
75g skinless hazelnuts
200g egg whites, (about 5 large eggs)
200g caster sugar
40g plain flour

Vanilla cream

Quantity Ingredient
2 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
20g cornflour
250ml milk
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out
1 teaspoon liquid glucose
80g egg whites, (about 2 eggs)
1 soft persimmon, cut into logs with an apple corer
12 multi-coloured rose petals in syrup, to garnish (see note)


  1. Make the marshmallow buttons:
  2. These can be made 2–3 hours in advance. Soak the gelatine in cold water until softened. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the liqueur, add the gelatine and glucose and stir until dissolved. In a saucepan bring 50 ml water and 120 g of the caster sugar to the boil. Simmer until the syrup reaches 127°C on a thermometer. Meanwhile, have the egg whites ready in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and start whisking to soft peaks when the syrup is at 114°C. Add the remaining 30 g of caster sugar gradually to stabilise the egg whites. Add the gelatine liqueur to the sugar syrup as it reaches 127°C. Start slowly pouring the syrup into the egg white, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until all the syrup is in and the meringue is thick and cooled. Line trays with baking paper and dust generously with the icing sugar mixture. Use a piping bag with a large piping nozzle to pipe 12 discs of 2 cm diameter and 12 discs of 4 cm diameter, all to a height of 1 cm. Flatten any irregular peaks with a dampened finger. Dust with the icing sugar mixture and refrigerate to set. You will have enough mixture to make more marshmallows, so pipe, bake, store and eat them as you wish.
  3. Make the hazelnut meringue:
  4. Preheat the oven to 110°C and line two baking trays with baking paper. Grind the hazelnuts to a moderately fine powder. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Fold in the flour and hazelnuts. Spread over the baking trays to a thickness of 5 mm. Bake for 20 minutes until thoroughly browned. Turn out onto wire racks, place a damp tea towel over the top for a few minutes and then remove the baking paper. Cool thoroughly before using.
  5. Make the vanilla cream:
  6. Whisk the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of the sugar until thickened and white. Whisk in the cornflour. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla pod and seeds and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Bring to scalding point. Mix some of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, then whisk this mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for 2–4 minutes until you can’t taste any gritty uncooked starch in the mixture. Transfer to a bowl and immediately cover with plastic wrap directly on the cream to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool.
  7. Heat the remaining caster sugar with the glucose and 50 ml water. Heat until the syrup reaches 110°C on a thermometer. Start whisking the egg whites in a mixer with whisk attachment until soft peak stage. When the syrup reaches 120°C slowly pour it into the egg whites in a slow stream, whisking all the time. Continue whisking until the meringue is thick and cooled. Fold into the pastry cream.
  8. Assemble the dish:
  9. Place spoonfuls of the vanilla cream onto each plate and spread one side of it flat. Shatter the hazelnut meringue into large and smaller pieces, retaining the integrity of it being crunchy pastry. Scatter a large spoonful around the cream. Add the marshmallow buttons and persimmon and garnish with rose petals.

To make rose petals in syrup

  • Dissolve 50 g of caster sugar in 50 ml of water over medium heat. When the syrup temperature reaches 70°C, pour it over a handful of perfect unsprayed rose petals. Leave to cool before use.
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