Hazelnut meringue cake with mulled wine pears
- December 2013
- Serves 8-10
- Takes 50 min to make, 1 hour 30-45 min to cook
This is an indulgent meringue cake that’s creamy in the middle and crisp on the outside – complemented perfectly by the sweet mulled wine pears.
- 27.9g (13.8g saturated)
- 39.6g (39g sugars)
For 10 servings
- 100g blanched hazelnuts
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 75g light muscovado sugar
- 4 large free-range egg whites
- ½ tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 400ml double cream
- Icing sugar for dusting
For the mulled wine-spiced pears
- 4 large ripe pears
- 6 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 350ml red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/-fan160°C/gas 4. Spread the hazelnuts over a baking tray, then toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until richly golden. Remove and set aside to cool, then finely chop.
- Peel and quarter the pears lengthways, then remove the core. Put in a large saucepan with the 6 tbsp sugar, then pour over the 350ml red wine to cover. Add the spices, then bring to a very gentle simmer (the surface should show just the odd bubble). Cover, then simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the pears are soft. (This will depend on the ripeness and variety of the pears so keep an eye on them.) Set aside to cool.
- Turn the oven down to 140°C/fan120°C/gas 1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, then draw a 20cm diameter circle on each with ?a pencil. In a mixing bowl, combine the 150g caster sugar with the light muscovado sugar. In a separate large, clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugars to make a very stiff and shiny meringue. Briefly whisk in the vinegar and cornflour, then gently fold in 75g of the toasted hazelnuts.
- Divide the mix evenly between the baking sheets, spreading it within the marked circles. Keep one meringue as flat as possible. Swirl the top of the other, then sprinkle with the remaining nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes (see tip), then switch off the oven, open the door so it’s slightly ajar and leave the meringues to cool completely.
- Before you’re ready to serve, remove the pears from the syrup. Strain the syrup, return to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or so until well reduced and syrupy, then cool. It will thicken more as it cools.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks. Put the plain meringue on a serving plate, spread with the cream, then top with the pears, tucking each long thin end behind the next wedge. Spoon over a little of the syrup, then top with the nutty meringue disc and dust with a little icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges, with a little of the remaining syrup drizzled around the plate.
It’s not easy to cut this cake into neat wedges, so be prepared to get messy. Take it to the table, then use a sharp serrated knife and a cake slice to lift portions onto plates
Cook the meringues and the pears the day before. Keep the meringues in an airtight box, separated by baking paper, and chill the pears in the syrup in the fridge until needed. When you’re ready, you just need to remove the pears from the syrup and thicken it (step 5), then whip the double cream, assemble the meringue cake and dust with icing sugar (step 6).
A meringue is cooked when the base peels away from the baking paper easily, without sticking.
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