Guest Post from Helen: Hazelnut Meringues

Hello everyone. I have decided to take the weekend off and have left you, my lovely readers in the care of Helen from HelenThornber. com I hope you enjoy her guest post and have had a lovely weekend. Thanks Jo :-)

I love cooking and experimenting, often trying out recipes and then making them my own. I have lots of cookery books, regularly pinch my sisters and photocopy my mums. But nothing compares to discovering Jo’s Kitchen. The combination of Jo’s writing style and practical recipes are so lovely that I’ve tried (and repeated) more recipes from here than any cookery book I have ever owned. Last year during a week off work I decided to have a foodie week and three of Jo’s recipes made an appearance! So when Jo mentioned she wanted guest posts for her blog I jumped at the chance. I told her I’d know when the right recipe came along. And now it has…

There is something quite scary about baking with egg whites, so when they are 50% of the recipe then it’s no wonder people find making meringues daunting. But after a few meringue-less years I’ve recently rediscovered just how easy they can be. If you get them right they are absolutely delicious and a fraction of the calories of a slice of cake. One small meringue comes in at 70 calories… you can’t beat something that is simple, decadent and virtually guilt free!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Meringues

(makes 32 small or 16 big meringues)

  • 4 egg whites
  • 170g sugar
  • 3 tbs chopped hazelnuts
  • 250g chocolate (milk or dark, whichever you prefer!)
  • a couple of slices of lemon

The first rule of making egg whites work for you is making sure they don’t come into contact with any grease. The easy way to do this is with a slice or two of lemon. Wipe EVERYTHING you use with it. The inside of bowls, the beaters on your whisk, any spatulas or spoons… everything. It doesn’t affect the taste but does ensure that you kill all grease and end up with the most fluffy meringues you could hope for.

1. Preheat your oven: Fan Oven – 140 °C (280°F), Conventional Oven – 160°C (320°F), Gas Mark 3

2. Prepare two baking trays with greaseproof paper greased with olive oil (my mum swears by baking parchment/paper sold in Tesco but my way seems to work as well)

Before you carry on make sure that all oil and grease is out of the way!

3. Put your eggs into a large mixing bowl. The mixture will expand so a big bowl is essential.

4. Whisk until they are light and fluffy with stiff peaks. The test is if you can hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling out, if they start slipping as you tip then keep whisking for a while longer.

5. Add the sugar gradually over about 8 minutes and keep whisking throughout this time. The mixture should look glossy and continue to expand slightly as you do this.

6. Add the hazelnuts and fold very gently.

7. Get a couple of teaspoons (or dessertspoons if you want to make large meringues) and your baking trays. Spoon out small amounts of the mixture onto the tray leaving a bit of space as they will expand slightly as they cook*

8. Put in your pre-heated oven and bake for 60-75 minutes (60 minutes will make them more chewy, the following 15 mins makes them gradually more crunchy)

9. Turn the oven off and open the door. Leave the meringues to cool in the oven for 60 minutes.

10. Melt your chocolate in a bowl over boiling water (or whatever your usual method for melting chocolate)

11. Spread out a piece of greaseproof paper big enough for all your meringues to fit on

12. Dip the bottom of each meringue in chocolate and place on the greaseproof paper

13. Leave the chocolate to set (at least four hours or overnight)

14. Enjoy…

*some people use a piping bag and nozzles but this tends to create meringues that are quite dense unless you’re experienced at doing it this way. I go for flavour and texture over appearance every time (and I think they still look nice when they’re naturally formed!)

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