Isn’t it rather odd the marvel of meringues? They require only one crucial ingredient with sprinkles of sugar, but then they can be turned into little wonders right? I mean meringue is used on top of cakes, with pies, and simply piped out into perfectly plain little dollops; but amazing is the charm of these dollops! I used their simplicity here and turned them to what I hope they are perceived to be, marvellous.
They are also festive, because we all know Christmas isn’t quite over until the New Year begins. It’s a festive extension!! I made this during Christmas when I was researching festive ideas, looking for that creative streak, I found many; then I came across those plain piped dollops of meringue which, look brilliant… But they lacked Christmas colour and lustre. I wanted something more together-some, nothing individual. So here you have a layered meringue surprise. The surprise lies within the meringue itself.
We all know meringues are not always those angelic pure white creations they appear, but temperature and time can really make them somewhat hellish. Yet here I am, ever the daring one, and decided to add some chopped hazelnuts in the mix! Well they were incredible!! Bite into it and it’s got this special crunch to it and this lovely nutty flavour.
I’ve layered them together with a creamy filling and drizzles and drizzles of chocolate and scatters of fresh raspberries! This beauty goes by the name of Vacherin, a lovely French dessert.
Recipe + Method
6 egg whites
280g caster sugar
160g hazelnuts, toasted (5mins)
½ tsp vanilla extract
2tsp corn flour
110g dark chocolate
200ml crème fraiche, beaten down to soften
500ml double cream
1tbsp icing sugar, sifted
In this lovely dessert, first you much ensure the hazelnuts are toasted for about 5 mins on a frying pan (no oil) and then let them cool before you chop them roughly. Then I used a large plate and a smaller plate (the sizes are of your own preference, baring in mind they will be layered on top of each other, so the bigger underneath the better for the smaller top, I used 1 large plate to draw 2 large circles, and 1 smaller plate for 1 small circle). Draw around the plates on separate sheets of baking paper, placing them on greased baking trays.
Whisk together the egg whites until stiff but not dry and then gradually mix in the sugar until it’s all finished and then the corn flour and vanilla extract. Whisk this until it is thoroughly combined. Then fold in ¾ of the toasted hazelnuts and once incorporated spoon this out onto the drawn disks up to the edges, (the larger disks should use about 2/3 of the mixture so divide it equally) then do the same for the last disk, using all of the remaining mixture. Place these in a preheated oven at 120C but turn this down to 100C when you place them in, and cook for 1hour and 30 minutes. Once cooked, leave to cool and make the filling.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar, but only until its reaching the consistency of soft peaks, then fold in the crème fraiche. Then melt the chocolate and leave to cool a little. To finish, first smother with the creamy filling, scatter the raspberries and then drizzle chocolate- do this to all layers and then sprinkle the nuts on tops and dust with icing sugar.