Brown Sugar and Hazelnut Meringues with Champagne Poached Pears
We have tried making meringues with other nuts, but roasted hazelnuts really are our preference. We love keeping the hazelnuts quite chunky and the centre of the meringue chewy. The hazelnut meringue and poached pears go very well together – both are almost toffee-like. Each can also hold its own as a dessert, served simply with a dollop of crème fraîche. This is a good dessert for a party, as you can make it well in advance.
|For the pears:|
|600ml||Champagne or white wine|
|1||vanilla pod, split in half|
|juice of 1 lemon|
|5||pears, peeled and halved|
|For the hazelnut meringue:|
|150g||soft brown sugar or caster sugar|
|100g||roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped|
|100g||dark chocolate, roughly chopped|
|cream or crème fraîche, to serve|
You will need: an electric whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
1. First make the pears. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
2. Pour the champagne into a pan with the sugar and the vanilla pod and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, then add the lemon juice.
3. Place the pears cut side up in an ovenproof dish and pour the champagne mixture over. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until the pears are tender. Take out and set aside to cool. You can either serve them like this, or if you have the time, pour the poaching liquid into a small pan and reduce by half to make a syrup.
4. Next make the meringue. Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas ½ and line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
5. Put the egg whites into a large, clean bowl and whisk with an electric whisk to form stiff peaks. Spoon by spoon, add the caster sugar (the slower the better) to create a shiny, thick meringue mixture. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add the hazelnuts and very carefully fold in with a large metal spoon.
6. Spoon 10 dessertspoon-sized blobs of meringue onto the lined baking sheets, spacing them apart. Bake for 40–60 minutes – you want the meringues to be crispy on the top but slightly soft on the bottom when pressed (you want a good chew in your meringue).
7. Once the meringues have cooled, melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Drizzle the melted chocolate over the meringues. 8. Serve on a pretty plate with a meringue, a dollop of cream or crème fraîche and a poached pear half.