When I was in Latvia I found out about a sweet named Zephyr (sometimes spelled Zefir). It’s a Russian confectionery that is very popular in Latvia. They aren’t sold in the Netherlands so I had no idea what to expect. Zephyrs might look like meringues but they’re really different. For starters you won’t need an oven to make them!
Zephyrs are made from apple puree, you should use sour apples like Golden Delicious for the best result (don’t go for the sweet and juicy apples that you might normally use for winter recipes).
These zephyrs are a great sweet to make for Christmas and serve them to your guest but they also make a nice gift for friends as they look like roses.
I learned how to make zephyrs at Gastronomijas Instituts in Riga during my stay in Latvia. They did a wonderful job explaining everything about zephyrs and letting us make our own to take home with us.
It’s relatively easy to make zephyrs as you’ll only need 4 ingredients and some water.
The homemade zephyrs are much tastier than the supermarket ones. The ladies at Gastronomijas Instituts were so kind to share the recipe for zephyrs with me. This way you can make zephyrs yourself this Christmas!
I’m sharing the traditional zephyr recipe with you as well as two variations.
From this recipe you’ll get approximately 60 zephyr halfs, so it’s enough for 30 zephyrs if you want to stick them together like the traditional zephyrs are.
500 grams of sour and not very juicy apples (or 250 grams homemade apple puree)
450 grams white sugar
10 grams agar powder
1 egg white (room temperature)
150 grams water
Steps how to make some apple puree :
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. From the apples take out the seeds and the core part, you can leave the apple peel. If the apples are very sticky and greasy it’s better if you peel them off. Cut the apples in smaller pieces and put them in a baking dish that is made of glass.
3. Bake the apples until they are very soft (it will take 30-40 minutes, the time depending on the apple type).
4. Blend the apples and push the mass through a sieve. Cool a little bit down the apple puree .
You can skip these steps if you use apple puree from an organic shop. If you do, please make sure there are no other ingredients than apples. Most of them contain a lot of added sugars and then the recipe won’t work. If you have the time I recommend you do make the apple puree yourself.
Steps how to make zephyrs:
1. In a mixing bowl put together the apple puree, egg white and 150 grams of white sugar and beat all together until there are stiff peaks and the mass become double or tripple in size (it will take approximately 15 minutes).
2. In a metal pot put together 300 grams of white sugar, agar powder and the water. Warm the mass up using medium heat (it will take 10-15 minutes). When the mass starts to boil continue to warm it up until there is a thick and a little bit yellowish sugar syrup. It is ready at the moment when the temperature in the pot reaches 110 degrees C. You can easily know it by looking how the syrup that you pick up is going off the spoon. The syrup should stretch from your spoon down to the pot in a very very thin spray (it will look like a hair).
3. Start to beat your egg-puree mass again and at the same time slowly add the hot sugar syrup. Mix it all together until you have very shiny and a stiff mass again (it will take 10-15 minutes).
4. Fill your zephyr mass in a piping bag and press it out from the bag on the baking
sheet. You can make a small circle to get the rose shape.
5. Let your zephyrs to dry at room temperature. You will need to wait from few hours (in a hot and dry summer) until up to 6 days (in a cold and rainy autumn) till you will be able to eat them. When they’ve reached the right amount of dryness for you, put them in a glass container and you can store them for about 30 days.
Zephyr variation 1: Cinnamon
Nothing smells more like Christmas than cinnamon. You can make cinnamon zephyrs by adding 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to the sugar syrup before you start heating the mass.
Zephyr variation 2: Cranberries
You can make pink zephyrs with natural coloring by adding cranberries! In order to make cranberry zephyrs you replace 125 grams of apple puree by 125 grams of cranberry puree.
To make puree from the berries you can take fresh berries or frozen ones. Put the
berries in a pot and heat them up to a boil until they are very soft and don’t stick together
anymore. Blend the mass and your puree will be ready. If you use fresh berries don’t forget
to add a little bit water in the pot because they can burn up.
You can also combine the regular zephyr recipe and the cranberry one in 1 piping bag to make white zephyrs with a pink swirl.
You can freeze your apple or cranberry purees and when you want to make zephyrs just take them out of the freezer.