Thursday, 20 March 2014

Raspberry & Hazelnut Meringue Cake

There are certain flavour combinations that are just meant to be. One of my favourite is that of raspberries with hazelnuts – add in some softly whipped cream and something delicious is created.
 
Raspberries can be extraordinarily expensive to buy and on one level this is understandable. As a soft fruit, they spoil easily and have a relatively short supermarket shelf-life. Added to this, they have to be carefully hand-picked and packed so that the fruit is not damaged. I resent paying exorbitant prices for raspberries, but I find the taste of them so difficult to resist, so from time-to-time will purchase them.
 
If you are lucky enough to have the space to grow your own raspberries, I urge you to do so. Both summer-fruiting and autumn-fruiting varieties can be grown and in my experience they are a fairly undemanding plant to grow. Given favourable growing conditions and a little care and attention, you will be rewarded with a large harvest of juicy berries which can be used in numerous ways.
 
In making the meringue, which forms the basis of this dessert cake, the usual rules apply; make sure that your bowl and other implements are spotlessly clean and that not a trace of egg yolk gets in to your egg whites when you are separating them. If any yolk gets into the whites, they just will not whip up into the soft peaks that are required for this recipe and you will have to start anew with fresh egg whites! Other than this one critical aspect of the recipe, everything else is fairly plain sailing and it is easy to prepare.
 
I have used hazelnuts, because they go so well with raspberries, but you could experiment with other ground nuts. Almonds also work very well, but experiment using other nuts if you feel so inclined. Some melted dark chocolate drizzled over the top would not go astray but I actually like the simplicity of it without added chocolate.
 

Ingredients:

120g ground toasted hazelnuts
4 large egg whites
225g caster sugar
2 tsp white wine vinegar
To serve:
1 punnet of fresh raspberries (about 150g)
250ml carton single cream
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.  Base-line two 20cm sandwich tine with non-stick baking parchment and grease the inside edges of the tins with flavourless vegetable oil. Set aside.
2. Whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar whisking all the time, until the sugar has been fully incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy. Mix through the vinegar and then fold in the nuts. Divide the mixture evenly between the two sandwich tins sand level the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the meringue is firm to the touch. Switch off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven. When cold, remove from the tins and peel off the baking parchment.
To finish:
3. Whisk the cream until it just softly holds it shape. Spread 2/3 of the cream on the top of one of the meringues and evenly scatter over half of the raspberries. Gently place the other meringue on top. Using a disposable piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle, pipe the rest of the cream on the top of the uppermost meringue and decorate with the remaining raspberries

Serves 6.