What on earth is a meringue cake?! Keeping all the best features of meringue, but add in a dark, sticky, hazelnut-y chewiness, lightened by a sweet creme patissiere filling, with refreshing thin orange slices scattered through the middle, and you sort of get the jist… As an added bonus, this dessert is gluten, wheat and dairy free!
This is not a pretty dessert. Despite its fluffy and delicate appearance, it deserves to be smashed to pieces with a fork and gobbled up in seconds. Or at least – that was how we did it! The few lucky ones who got to taste test this recipe quoted it was their favourite bake of mine ever – and coming from them, that’s something! This is especially surprising as this recipe really came about in a funny way; driven by the desire to use up 4 egg whites and half a carton of hazelnut milk, I began really having to search hard for a recipe. Turns out that recipes do not often combine egg whites and milk, but then the wonders of the hazelnut meringue cake came back to me.
I think this was something I first saw on bake off – and I loved the idea of turning a meringue into something other than a sweet, crispy treat. Although this still retains those things we love about a good meringue, it is also darker, slightly heavier and more chewy – and therefore ever so slightly more like a cake- because it is packed full of very finely chopped hazelnut pieces.
I have filled the meringue cake with creme patissiere – which is a fancy name for a custard thickened with cornflour. So, as we’ve been practising our custard over the last few weeks, it will be an absolute doddle (which I can promise it will be…as it’s actually easier and much harder to get wrong than custard – the cornflour stops the eggs curdling, so unless you burn it, you’ll be hard pressed to ruin it!)!
Lastly, buy the best oranges you can and very very thinly slice the segments. By layering these onto the creme pat, before sandwiching the second meringue on top, you’ve created a light, refreshing, fruity cleanser that balances the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. It’s this secret which will keep you coming back for more until it’s all gone in one sitting!
These chocolate meringues make a great dessert paired simply with berries and vanilla ice cream. Chewy and very chocolatey, they make a wonderful alternative to traditional white meringues.
Flavoured meringues were something I had wanted to try for ages. I don’t know why, but whenever I see flavoured, colourful meringues in the shops they just look so appealing; and none more so than chocolate meringues. At this time of year when berries are popping up everywhere, light, chocolatey desserts are the perfect accompaniment. So I thought I’d give them a try!
Having had lots of busy weekends one after the other, these were great to make as a quick dessert as once the meringues were done, it only needed some fruit and ice cream on the side. They also keep really well in an air tight container for 4 – 5 days, making them perfect to bake in advance and have ready when needed.
I’ll be honest and say they are a bit trickier than a normal meringue – only because you have to be really gentle folding in the chocolate and cocoa powder. But if you can handle standard meringue, you will be absolutely fine with these. Whereas normal white meringues can become very crunchy, crack easily and taste mostly of lightly caramelised sugar, these are the opposite – wonderfully chewy, more sturdy in texture and with chocolate chips studded throughout they’re full of flavour.
If you’re feeling fancy, you could make a quick raspberry sauce to pour on top – or use my raspberry curd recipe which I will be posting soon. They’re great without it, but the sauce does add an extra bit of zing to compliment the sweet chocolate meringue.
A sumptuous dessert, sure to amaze anyone – dairy free or not. A crisp, light, and yet chewy meringue, filled with billows of coconut milk cream and crowned with a mass of delicious seasonal fruit. The perfect dessert to wow a crowd.
Pavlova brings back a lot of childhood memories for me… warm summer evenings, surrounded by family and friends, everyone full to the brim after a delicious meal. Then, out comes the Pavlova… the crowning centre piece. So light, crisp and sweet, with a pile of pillow-y soft cream, and then a towering mass of sweet fruit. And of course everyone devours it!
Pavlova is something I’ve really missed – It’s something where cream is a very main and important ingredient, and you can’t hide the flavour. Soya cream doesn’t whip very well (or at least no variety I’ve ever found does!), and has a discernible soya aftertaste – not great if you’re serving it up to dairy eaters who will definitely think it is below standard. Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of research into dairy free alternatives and time and time again I saw whipped coconut milk as a replacement for whipped cream. Really, I thought? Does that really work? What’s the texture like? I also worried about everything having to go with coconut… as much as I love it, it doesn’t always go with everything in the same way that cream does!
However I have to say I am a complete convert! Just by refrigerating the coconut milk, it whips perfectly and the texture and appearance is exactly like whipped cream – soft, billowy mounds of it would make a great side to lots of desserts to replace normal cream – and although the coconut flavour is not overwhelming in the slightest, you could soften the flavour by folding in a few tablespoons of dairy free yoghurt, which also loosens the texture slightly.
Pavlova is great dessert to have up your sleeve, especially as the end result is spectacular and it really is very easy. You can even make the meringue part a day or two before which is always useful. Pavlova is a basic meringue recipe with two key ingredients – white wine vinegar and cornflour. It is the addition of these two ingredients which gives Pavlova it’s famous chewy texture in the middle, which just keeps you coming back for more.
Sweet yet tart lemon cupcakes, perfect for a special occasion. A lemon sponge, filled with a pop of lemon curd in the middle, topped with light as air Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
These cupcakes are something special. Lemony to the core (literally!), but topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream which is definitely worth the effort. This was the first time I’d eaten (let alone made) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and despite the process being quite lengthy, the result was spectacular. Like a cross between a marshmallow and traditional buttercream, it is the smoothest, lightest icing you will ever eat. Also a bonus that it’s not too sweet, which works wonderfully well with lemons.
I left these as just pure and simple lemon, which seems just right to show off the two ‘technical’ elements of this cake. Both the Lemon Curd and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream might seem quite daunting, but the good thing is you can do both of them in advance! The Lemon Curd will keep in an unopened jar for a couple of months and the buttercream can be kept in the fridge for a few days before use. Then all you need to do is bake the cupcakes, which I promise is exceedingly simple!
If the Swiss Meringue Buttercream seems like a step too far, then a regular buttercream would also work well. You will get a sweeter result, but that’s not always a bad thing! Simply cream together 1 part butter to 1 and 1/2 parts icing sugar, and then add lemon curd to taste. I have to say this is one of my favourite buttercreams – the eggs in the curd help the buttercream go a very very pale colour, and it really lightens up the texture.
These cupcakes would make a wonderful gift or treat on a special occasion, and I can promise they will be gratefully received by anyone…. except perhaps someone who doesn’t like lemons!
Happy New Year! I find it strange the way January starts the year. After all the excitement in December, January can seem dull and plain with little to look forward to. So today I created these cupcakes, full of wonderful summery flavours to remind us that winter will shortly be giving way to the brighter seasons.
These cupcakes are lightly flavoured with lemon and then with a hit of raspberry in the centre – provided by my homemade Raspberry Curd in this instance – but you could easily do this with raspberry jam if making curd is a step too far! Raspberries are, in my opinion, one of the best summer fruits. Once they are back in season I will do a step by step post on how to make raspberry curd – it is well worth the time and effort.
— Update! — If you would like to see how to make the Raspberry Curd, the full recipe is here.
I decided to top these cupcakes with meringue as Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourite desserts, and it makes such a nice change to heavy buttercream as a topping. I’ve used Italian Meringue as it is already cooked by the time you top the cupcakes by whisking in a hot sugar syrup so it doesn’t create any wetness on your cakes. Plus its tasty 😀
Filed under cakes, Meringue