Whisk up a batch of classic meringues, then get creative with citrus swirl, Turkish delight and chocolate varieties
MethodLine 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and set up a piping bag with a medium-size star nozzle.
- zest and juice of 8 tangerines
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g unsalted butter, chopped into small dice
- 4 egg yolks
- 150ml crème fraîche
- 150ml natural yogurt
- 1 quantity tangerine curd
- 2-3 tbsp Grand Marnier
- zest and juice of 6 tangerines
- 100g caster sugar
- 2-3 tbsp Grand Marnier
- ½ tsp arrowroot or cornflour
- 1 tsp orange juice or water
- 50g orange candied peel, cut into 5mm/¼in dice (optional)
- 4 egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- oil for greasing
- 4 tangerines, peeled and segmented
- icing sugar, for dusting
- To make the tangerine curd: place the tangerine zest and juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce by half before mixing in the caster sugar and chopped butter. Once the butter has melted, let it cool for a few minutes then gradually mix in the egg yolks. Stir over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until thickened. This stage can also be achieved in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring continuously for 20-25 minutes until thickened. Once thickened transfer to a clean bowl and leave to cool slightly before covering with cling film or greaseproof paper. Alternatively, store in a sterilised jar.
- To make the ice cream: whisk the crème fraîche and yogurt into the curd and flavour with Grand Marnier. The mix can now be churned in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes before freezing. An alternative method is to freeze the mix for several hours without churning, but you do need to stir it every 20 minutes to break up the crystals until it sets properly. If this second method is followed, remove the ice cream from the freezer about 20-30 minutes before serving to loosen its consistency.
- To make the syrup: boil together the tangerine zest and juice with the caster sugar and allow to reduce by a third before adding the Grand Marnier. Mix the arrowroot or cornflour with the orange juice or water and whisk into the simmering syrup. Once returned to a gentle simmer, cook for just 2 minutes before removing from the heat. The candied orange peel, if using, can be added while the syrup is warm. Allow to cool. An alternative method is to reheat the syrup just before serving, adding the peel while the syrup is warming.
- To make the meringues: preheat the oven to 120C/Gas ½/fan oven 100C. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in two-thirds of the caster sugar. Continue to whisk to reach stiff peaks. The remaining sugar can now be added. Continue to whisk until the meringue has a good thick creamy consistency. The cornflour and lemon juice can now be whisked in, whisking for another minute.
- The meringues can be kept naturally shaped by spooning individual portions on to lightly oiled parchment paper on a baking tray. Or spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain tube and piping large domes onto the paper. Whichever choice is made, it is important to leave ample space between the meringues to allow them to swell and rise. These can now be baked for 45-50 minutes, about 1 hour maximum. During this time they will take on a light colour, forming a crisp shell that coats the marshmallow centre. The meringues can be cooked at a higher temperature - 150C/Gas 2/fan oven 130C - to give slightly more colour. If so, cooking time will be slightly less, around 40-45 minutes.
- When assembling the dish there are two options: if dome-shaped meringues have been made, it is best to crack the tops, placing five or six tangerine segments on top of each if using. The ice cream can now be scooped or scrolled using a warm tablespoon, before sitting on top of the meringue. The syrup with candied fruit can now be drizzled over to finish. The alternative is to simply sit the ice cream and meringue side by side, decorating with segments, if using, and drizzling over the syrup. Whichever you choose, either can be finished with a light dusting of icing sugar, if desired, and perhaps a leaf or sprig of holly.
- 185g unsalted butter
- 185g best dark chocolate
- 85g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 50g white chocolate
- 50g milk chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
- Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g best dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
- While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 (most ovens take 10-15 minutes to heat up). Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base. Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.
- With a large sharp knife, chop 50g white chocolate and 50g milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.
- Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don’t lose heart. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.
- Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
- Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. Now your mixing is done and the oven can take over.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
- Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. These brownies are so addictive you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished, but if you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 50g icing sugar
- 25g hazelnut, ground in a food processor
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g hazelnuts
- 75ml whipping cream
- 25g golden caster sugar
- 25g cocoa powder
- 25g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- icing sugar and cocoa powder, to serve
- Heat oven to 120C/100C fan/gas 1. For the meringues, whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar and continue whisking until stiff, add the icing sugar and ground nuts, then gently fold through until evenly combined. Line a baking tray with baking paper and pipe or spoon out rounds of meringue into 7cm discs. Bake for 1½-2 hrs until crisp outside but still soft in the centre. Leave to cool. You need 3 rounds per person. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container for about 1 week.
- To make the hazelnut praline, warm a small heavy-based pan over a medium heat and cook the caster sugar until it melts and turns a rich caramel colour. Carefully swirl the hazelnuts around the pan (be careful, the sugar is very hot) and allow them to caramelise and brown – about 2 mins. Pour the mixture out onto a tray lined with baking paper. Leave to cool.
- Make the chocolate sauce by heating together 75ml water, the caster sugar and cocoa powder until boiling. Pour over the chocolate and whisk well until smooth.
- To serve, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Finely chop the cooled praline by hand or in a food processor. Stir most of it through the whipped cream, setting a little aside. Place a meringue disc on each plate and top with a little of the cream. Add another disc, more cream, followed by the final disc. Top with icing sugar, cocoa powder and some of the reserved chopped praline, then spoon around some chocolate sauce