Thursday, 3 September 2015

Hazelnut Meringue

It was requested that instead of a birthday cake this year could I make a meringue?..........and perhaps it could have chocolate sauce?..............and maybe lots of cream..........but nothing too sweet and not loads of fruit........

So, always being the crowd please, I obliged thinking that a hazelnut meringue should 'fit the bill', with loads of whipped vanilla cream, rough crushed hazelnuts and a chocolate ganache drizzled over the top - no candles though  - the numbers required would crush the meringue.......

This is actually a really easy pudding to make and it looks really impressive - anyone can make a meringue - well anyone with a whisk! All you have to remember is 1- get the egg whites to a stiff peak stage before adding the sugar and 2 - make sure the sugar dissolves into the whites reaching a glossy stable state.

You can do this all by hand with a balloon whisk - but it's a lot easier with an electric whisk and if you have a freestanding mixer then your laughing - it will do it all for you! Just set it up and let it whisk away on a medium setting - easy peasy lemon squeezy! ........gosh I'm so sorry I don't know what came over me I'll be saying 'oops a daisy' next!!!

Recipe - serve 6/8

4 large egg whites
200g golden caster sugar plus 2 tablespoons for the ganache
pinch sea salt
100g hazel nuts
600ml large tub cream for the ganache and the vanilla cream)
vanilla essence
1 tablespoon white caster sugar
200g dark chocolate

Pre heat oven to 150C/Gas 2

First off get your egg whites whisking - this will take about 10 minutes with an electric whisk, and you need them to get to a stiff peak stage - i.e. they hold their shape when the whisk is picked up.

With you whisk still running gradually add the sugar followed by a pinch of salt and let it whisk until all the sugar has dissolved - this will take about 10/15 minutes with an electric mixer - to test rub a little of the meringue between your fingers if it smooth then it's ready if it's a little gritty then you need to continue whisking.

 Whilst your eggs are whisking you can prepare the hazelnuts. Divide them into two.

The first batch need to be chopped into a fine crumb.....

And the other half crushed.

You can do this with the flat of your hand, the flat of a knife, the back of a wooden spoon or a large heavy book - if you really want....... the best way I found was placing one at a time onto a wooden board and applying pressure with the flat of my hand - that way you get a mixture of shapes and sizes.

Now back to your meringue - once your happy all the sugar has dissolved remove the bowl from the mixer and gently pour your hazelnuts in and very softly fold them in with a large metal spoon - do not be tempted to whisk, beat or violently fold them in - the oils in the nuts will destroy the integrity of the meringue causing it to become liquid! and then there is nothing you can do but pour it away and start I know to my cost!

Grab a large baking sheet and line with grease proof paper.

Taking a large serving spoon blob your meringue onto the tray to form a square or rectangle.

...... I'm not very good at making a perfect shape so I like to go for the rustic look (hmmm ...thats my excuse for the shape!) I just dot four blobs of meringue onto the tray and then join them up with a few smaller blobs and finally filling up the middle. Your aiming for an A4 size shape.

Once your happy with your shape, peak up the meringue a bit and then pop it in the oven.

Bake for about an hour - until the outside has dried and started to crack and the inside will be sticky and soft.

Whilst your meringue is baking you can make your chocolate ganache

Chop you chocolate into a bowl. Heat up 280 ml of cream into a pan along with the two tablespoons of golden caster sugar. Heat the cream until its just below boiling point and then pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and you have rich thick chocolate cream........or ganache.

Next make up your vanilla cream - just pour the rest of the cream into a bowl, add your 2 tablespoons of white caster sugar and some vanilla (1-2 teaspoons - depends how vanilla-ery you want it!) Whisk it all together until the cream has thickened and will hold it's shape.

Once your meringue has cooled completely you can assemble it. Pile on all the vanilla cream and then cover it with the crushed hazelnuts. Finally drizzle on your chocolate ganache and serve.

Don't assemble it all to far in advance my advice is to get everything ready and assemble it just before serving - you don't want a soggy mess instead of a crispy crunch when you cut into it.

You can prepare the meringue a few days before hand and store in a dry airtight container - as you can with the vanilla cream and the ganache but store those guys in the fridge. The ganache will need to come out of the fridge about an hour before you need it to warm up and become runny again.

Have a happy Thursday
Love Lizx

Here's the printable

 Hazelnut Meringue