I first saw these meringues piled up on a large platter in the display window of Ottolenghi in London. I usually don’t give meringues a second glance but these made me stop in my tracks – they were enormous, pillowy and bigger than my fist.
Some months later, I found myself with seven leftover egg whites from a batch of pasta (which I will have to write about soon) and by happy coincidence, the recipe for these meringues calls for that exact number of egg whites.
The meringues are made with brown sugar, and you first have to dissolve the sugar in the egg whites over a pot of simmering water – this lets the sugar blend in well with the whites, and enables them to whip up properly into a smooth mix. You then scoop them into large blobs and bake them at a relatively low temperature for a long period of time. The end result is a crisp outer shell with an unexpectedly gooey interior and a caramelly depth from the brown sugar.
These are for serious sweet lovers and I’m grateful to have a sweet-toothed partner-in-crime to offload some of the eating onto
giant espresso-hazelnut meringues
The original recipe uses 1/2 tsp of cinnamon – I replaced this with ground espresso powder. Cocoa powder would work too if you want a chocolatey meringue.
- 7 large egg whites
- 9 oz / 260g sugar
- 5 oz / 140g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 oz / 30g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 0.5 oz / 15g coffee beans, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 230F.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer. In a bowl large enough to sit on top of the pan without touching the water, mix together the egg white and both sugars. Put the bowl on the pan and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture is hot and the sugars have dissolved. The mixture should be ~ 104F. Don’t cook the eggs!
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high speed with the whisk attachment for 8 minutes until completely cool. The mixture should lighten significantly and it should be firm, glossy and hold its shape.
Sprinkle the espresso powder into the meringue mix and fold in gently with a spatula.
Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper or a Silpat. Using two large spoons, scoop up a large spoonful of the meringue and scrape it onto the tray. Leave plenty of room on the tray for the meringues to expand. You should end up with 10 large meringues each about the size of an apple.
Shape the meringues into spiky blobs with the back of the spoons. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and coffee beans on top. Place in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They should be completely dry underneath, but soft in the center when you poke them gently. If you want a less gooey center, bake them for the full 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store them in a dry place outside the fridge and they will keep for 2-3 days.
Makes 10 large meringues.