Chocolate meringues

chocolate meringue

One of my many and varied jobs at the moment is editing a magazine called Manna. I’m thoroughly enjoying working on the summer issue as the theme is Food & Farming, which means I get to talk to people across Somerset who are involved in producing our food.

One of the highlights so far has been interviewing an incredibly inspiring farmer called Anita near Clevedon in North Somerset. We chatted solidly for three hours about the rewards and challenges of running a farm while bringing up a family, stopping only when her husband popped into the kitchen to let us know one of the cows was calfing and to see if I’d like to take some action photos. Of course I jumped at the chance and I very nearly blubbed when the gorgeous little heifer came into the world.

As well as the herd of dairy cows, Anita also has free-range poultry. At the end of the interview she insisted I take away with me a huge tray of eggs. I loved the fact they were all sizes and colours. These are the ‘imperfect’ ones the supermarkets won’t take.

eggs

While we do appreciate eggs in our house, we’d have been hard pushed to get through this little lot, so I shared them with my good friend Sarah. We’ve been enjoying more than our usual quota of eggy breakfasts and I’ve made a batch of lemon curd. But of course, we also had to make meringues.

I’d seen a recipe for chocolate meringues on the BBC Good Food website and have been meaning to give them a try, so here was the perfect opportunity. Mine turned out nowhere near as neat and pretty but they tasted just the ticket; light and crispy and a little bit chewy. The plain chocolate also stops them from becoming overly sweet. Which means you can easily much your way through quite a few in one sitting.

The original recipe suggests you put all the meringue mixture into a piping bag and then “make a hole in the mixture all the way to the funnel tip. Pour the chocolate into the hole.” I don’t have the most delicate of touches admittedly, but I just couldn’t pull this off, even after several attempts. So instead I simply layered the meringue and the chocolate in the bag, which worked OK. If you can get it to work, please come back and tell me how you did it!

Next time I make them, I think I might try adding some chopped nuts to the chocolate. And maybe sandwich them together with some whipped cream for an indulgent dessert…

chocolate meringue

Chocolate meringues

This is a recipe I adapted for the Aga. For a conventional oven, take a look at the original recipe on BBC Good Food.

100g dark chocolate
4 egg whites
1 tbsp lemon juice
200g caster sugar

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Microwave on a low setting for a minute and then stir. Repeat again for another minute and so on, until the chocolate has just melted. Allow to cool a little while you move on to the eggs.

In a clean, large bowl add a tablespoonful of lemon juice to your egg whites and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Then add a tablespoonful of caster sugar and whisk it in, then whisk in another and repeat until you’ve worked in all the sugar. Your meringue will now be looking sumptuously thick and glossy.

Line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

Spoon a little meringue into a piping bag and then pour in a little chocolate. Keep alternating until you’ve filled the bag. Pipe meringues onto the baking sheets about 4-5cm across, taking care to space them well. Keep going until you’ve used all your meringue mixture. Depending on how big your piping bag is, you may need to refill once or twice.

Start by baking the meringues at the top of the roasting oven for 5 minutes and then transfer to the bottom oven for 40-50 minutes. Check every now and again as you don’t want them too crunchy. I think they’re perfect when they’re still a little chewy.

chocolate meringue

Lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pie

I’ve been meaning to try making a lemon meringue pie for ages now. I thought they were fussy, complicated puddings to make, but I finally got around to it last weekend and it turned out to be so much easier than I was expecting.

I used a recipe from master baker Dan Lepard, and it was indeed as simple as he promised. The pastry is perfectly light and crisp, while the meringue is soft, fluffy and marshmallow-like. I made one slight change and that was to add some lime juice to the proceedings. I like a lot of contrast in my lemon meringue pie. The meringue has to be verging on sickeningly sweet and so that must be counteracted with a really tangy sharp citrus. I like super tangy. Lime as well as lemon is perfect for that.

The pie went down well with the whole family, particularly Jessie who isn’t generally much of a pudding girl. She came back for seconds. And I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast on Easter Monday – ever so decadent.

NB instructions for Aga cooks are at the end of the recipe.

lemon meringue pie

Lemon meringue pie

For the pastry

125g plain flour
½ tsp salt
25g icing sugar
75g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tsp cold water

For the lemon filling

100ml lemon juice
100ml lime juice
50ml orange juice
150g caster sugar
25g cornflour
3 egg yolks
25g butter

For the meringue

4 egg whites
125g caster sugar

To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Mix in the egg yolk and water to form a soft paste. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Dan Lepard says to take a 20cm round deep tart case with a removable base but I used a cake tin. Grease your tart case or cake tin. Roll out the dough fairly thinly and line the tin’s base and sides. Press gently into the sides, trim the edges and then chill for another half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C or Gas Mark 3.

Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove the paper and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is dry and golden. Leave to cool.

To make the filling, place the lemon, lime and orange juices in a saucepan with the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Place over a low heat and add the butter. Keep stirring while it comes to the boil. Pour the filling into the tart case, leaving a slight gap at the top. Leave to cool completely.

For the meringue, beat the egg whites in large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, beating in well before the next lot of sugar goes in. You should end up with a thick and glossy  meringue.

Spoon the meringue on top of the lemon tart. With the oven still set to 170C or Gas Mark 3, bake for roughly 25 minutes until golden and the meringue has set but is still soft. Leave to cool before serving.

Aga instructions

If you’re using a two-door Aga like me, bake the pastry case on the floor of the roasting oven for 10 to 15 minutes, before removing the beads and baking for a further 5 minutes or so until the pastry is golden.

To cook the full pie, start it off in the middle of the roasting oven for about four minutes until the meringue turns a light brown. Then carefully move down to the top of the simmering oven for another 20 minutes until the meringue is set.

lemon meringue pie

If you liked this, you might also like to try:

Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart
Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart
Blackberry and cardamom pavlova
Blackberry and cardamom pavlova
Peach pie
Peach pie