With the sun shining and the second May Bank Holiday just around the corner, it’s time to bring out the cocktails. That, plus the fact that I handed in the first draft of my cookbook this morning – all 8 chapters, 100 recipes and 50,000 words (yep, I might have overshot the word limit a fraction but that’s what the editor’s for, right?) of it. Let’s celebrate. Continue reading
This Sunday, I reached saturation point.
It’s that time of year when, with the holidays just around the corner, everyone begins to let their hair down. Christmas parties take place, the champagne starts flowing and the number of chocolates in the office outnumbers employees by fifteen to one.
Last week’s festivities culminated in a weekend of celebrations: a friend over from Australia, another one heading off there (what is it with my friends and Oz?), Carnivorous Boyfriend’s DJ debut and a big birthday meal. Christmas treats were baked (more on that later this week), sleep was lost and alcohol consumed. By Sunday evening, a mocktail felt not just desirable, but really rather necessary. Continue reading
Last night Carniverous Boyfriend and I headed South of the river to my parents’ house for our first BBQ of the year (woohoo!). After the glorious sunshine of last weekend the weather didn’t quite deliver, but it was definitely warm enough to be outside. Sipping a glass of cold prosecco as the smoky smell of chargilled meat filled the air, I started to feel like summer could be on its way.
My Mum asked me to bring a pudding and, knowing my Dad had been put in charge of buying the meat, I decided to go for something light and summery to cleanse our palates after the protein onslaught. Platters of rare sirloin steak, garlicky chicken supreme and three different types of sausages later, a delicately creamy dessert proved exactly what the doctor ordered.
These praline meringues are crispy, delicious and so simple to make, the brown sugar and praline adding a delicious nutty crunch which works well against the smooth maple mousse. I opted to freeze my mousse for an extra contrast of textures, but I think it would work just as well without. And if you’re feeling really lazy, you could forgo the mousse altogether and serve with a dollop of thick cream or Greek yoghurt, drizzling a little maple syrup over the top to finish.
Praline meringues with frozen maple mousse
Serves 8 comfortably (depending on the size you make your meringues!)
- A handful of pecan nuts
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Mix the pecans and maple syrup together then spread on the tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden – the maple syrup will caramelize around the nuts, creating a delicious crunchy praline. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray.
- Chop the cool pecan praline roughly to a chunky crumb, leaving aside a few whole pecans to decorate later.
Pecan praline meringues
- 4 egg whites
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 100g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl to a soft peak. Add the soft brown sugar and continue to whisk to form very firm peaks. Finally fold in the caster sugar and praline crumbs with a large metal spoon, leaving as much air in the meringue as possible.
- Spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking tray. I used a dessert spoon to make nine even sized meringues, slightly spaced apart. You could vary this but remember you’ll need to adjust cooking times according to size.
- Cook for one hour at 120 degrees C, then reduce the oven temperature to 100 degrees C and cook for another hour. They should be hard when you tap the outside, and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray.
- Store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to assemble.
Frozen maple syrup mousse
- 3 eggs, separated
- 100g maple syrup
- 425 ml double cream
- A pinch of sea salt
- Whisk the 3 egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl until thick and foamy. Warm the maple syrup over low heat until nearly boiling, then pour over the egg yolks and continue whisking over a bain marie until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and continue whisking until cold. Put in the fridge to chill further.
- Softly whip the cream and fold into the chilled egg yolk and syrup mixture. Put back in the fridge while you complete the final stage.
- Whip the egg whites to firm peaks with the pinch of sea salt. Fold in the chilled syrup, cream and egg yolk mixture then freeze.
Put the meringue on a plate. Using an ice cream scoop, place a large dollop of maple mousse on top. Decorate with remaining pralines.
You could also make flatter meringues and stack in layers with the mousse for something bit fancier. And if you have any leftover mousse you can serve in little ramekins like the one below. Enjoy!