Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Cooking: Brown Sugar Meringues with Chocolate and Cranberries

What could be more Christmassy than a party treat which combines brown sugar, chocolate, cranberries and nuts, right!? These sweet, chewy, tiny meringues look super pretty piled on a plate, and you could top them with a whole range of things.



 The meringue recipe comes from this little book, Meringue Magic by Alisa Morov (her name is like my name! Fun fact: I've never met an Alisa in real life, but people call me that all. the. time.) I doubled it because I wanted lots of mini meringues.

What will you need?

For the meringues:
4 egg whites, room temperature
110g light brown soft sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
about 50g dark chocolate
small handful each of finely chopped dried cranberries and walnuts, OR whatever else you feel like or happen to have in your cupboard. Go crazy! Have fun! I do think the cranberries and walnuts make these look excitingly festive though.

Preheat the oven to 150C. Pop greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.

Using an electric whisk, or a hand whisk if you have arms of steel and want to be here for like three hours, whisk the egg whites on the lowest setting for about two minutes, until they are all bubbly. Then increase the speed, and whisk whisk whisk until they form stiff peaks (oo-er).  Then add the sugar bit by bit until it is all incorporated, and then the salt and vanilla extract. The meringue is ready when you can hold a spoon or the bowl upside down and the mixture doesn't slide at all.

Spoon the meringues onto the greaseproof paper. Try to form them into neatish roundish puffs - or if you are fancy, use a piping bag to make pretty shapes. Mine turned out a bit larger and lumpier than I would have liked because I used a tablespoon; I would go with a teaspoon next time. I got about 20 meringues from this; your results may very, because you know, egg whites. Also spoons. They can be different.


Bake the meringues in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and dry to the touch. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in it until cool. 


Now, the fun part! Leave the meringues on the greaseproof paper as you do this, because it is going to get messy.

Melt all except a few squares of the chocolate, either in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Once it is melted, take it off the heat and stir in the last few squares, allowing the residual heat to melt them. This (apparently) works to temper the chocolate so that it retains its shine when it solidifies again. Science! That I read on the internet! Where all the best science lives!


Using a teaspoon, drizzle the melted chocolate all over your meringues. Dribble it quickly, roughly and from a height for the best effect, covering multiple meringues at once. Make sure you go across each meringue in several directions as well, and get even coverage on each one. Again, if you are fancy you can pipe the chocolate on, but I like the messy effect of using the spoon, and the bigger blobs provide a better surface to stick things on.

While the chocolate is still glossy and wet, scatter over your berries and nuts (or whatever) and lightly press them down where you think they look attractive. I only put the toppings on half the meringues in case of nut allergies and picky eaters. I also experimentally dropped a few salt flakes (literally like two) on some of my meringues; it tasted good but be very very sparing if you do this, and for the love of marshmallows do not use free flowing table salt, that will be disgusting. Sea salt flakes only. I had a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate still left over, so I dribbled that on top of the berries and nuts, which looked pretty and helped secure them in place.

Leave until the chocolate has cooled and all your toppings are firmly stuck on, then store in an airtight tin for up to three days. Three days is what the book says, I only made mine yesterday so I actually don't really know. Blogging! You can just say anything! You don't have to really know about it!


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