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Meringues for Queen Sophia

by Debora Robertson from Notes From A Small Kitchen Island

A decadent sweet dessert of praline, coffee meringue and cream whipped up into something akin to an Eton Mess. As an added bonus, all components can be made up a day ahead of entertaining.

From the book


At that same Sunday lunch at Tom and Johann’s, we ended our meal with this spectacular pudding. As you might imagine, we drank several excellent bottles over several excellent courses, and it’s testament to how wonderful this is that I remember it at all. It is a sort of Eton Mess-y concoction of cream and coffee meringues and while there are several stages, none of them are hard and you can do all of them imperfectly and still end up with the most impressive result. If the meringues are wobbly, you are bashing them up anyway, same with the praline, and if you can’t be bothered to make the caramel, just buy a nice jar of dulce de leche and crack on. You can also make all the components the day before and just assemble them on the day (remember to leave enough chilling time, for you and the pudding, though). Oh, and I have no idea who Queen Sophia is, but she obviously had quite the life.

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120g raisins – if you can get your hands on Muscat raisins, all the better
150ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
1 x 400g tin of condensed milk, or a jar of dulce de leche
a little vegetable oil
120g walnuts
120g caster sugar
1 litre double cream
For the coffee meringues:
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
180g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp coffee extract, or 2 tbsp good espresso powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water


Put the raisins into a small bowl with the sherry, cover and leave to soak while you make the other components.

Next, make the meringues. Make sure the bowl and whisk are scrupulously clean – any trace of grease will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment or Silpat and preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff, starting slowly then building up the speed, then begin beating in the sugar a spoonful at a time until you have used half of it. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the sugar more quickly, and whisk until the meringue mixture is beautifully glossy and stands in stiff peaks when you lift out the beater. Whisk in the coffee extract. Spoon on to the prepared sheet in 8 generous dollops. Put the meringues in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 120°C/100°C fan/gas 1. Bake for 1½ hours, until you can lift the meringues off the paper or Silpat easily. Turn off the heat and leave the meringues in the oven until they are completely cool.

To make the caramel, put the tin of condensed milk on its side in a pan and add enough water to cover the tin by about 5cm. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour, topping up with boiling water from the kettle if it needs it – be very careful not to let it boil dry. Remove from the heat and let it cool in the pan.

To make the walnut praline, first line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment or Silpat lightly brushed with vegetable oil. Scatter the walnuts on the parchment. Tip the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan or frying pan. It’s best to use a pan that has a pale interior so you can monitor the colour of the caramel easily. Warm the sugar over a medium heat. It will begin to melt – stir it a little with a wooden spoon to encourage it to melt evenly. Lower the heat a bit and leave to melt completely without stirring until the sugar is a rich, dark shade of amber. Quickly tip the caramel over the walnuts on the prepared tray and use a couple of forks to ensure each one is coated. Leave to cool, then chop roughly, leaving some bigger shards for decoration.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until thickened, being careful not to overbeat as it will continue to thicken as it sits. Then use a rubber spatula to fold in the caramel or dulce de leche – just ripple it through, you don’t want it to be completely combined.

Drain the raisins from the sherry. Drink the sherry.

Now, thank god, the easy bit: assembly. Use a large bowl – I like to use a big glass trifle bowl so you can see all the beautiful layers. Break up a third of the meringues into large-ish chunks and tip them into the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a layer of cream, then with a handful of raisins and praline. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, ending with a scattering of praline and raisins and some generous shards of meringue. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

Tip: Any leftovers can be put through an ice cream maker just as they are to make a profoundly delicious ice cream.

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From the book: Notes From A Small Kitchen Island

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