If you follow my facebook page you make have noticed I've recently become obsessed with making meringues of all shapes, sizes and flavours! They're not an easy dessert to master but I've tried a few different techniques now and having become a big fan of The Meringue Girls Instagram feed I treated myself to their books and found technique works really well and even though it sounds really technical it really isn't!
I have both of these books and would highly recommend them:
This weekend I'm off to my Mums for dinner so I thought I would take dessert and of course meringues were high on my list of options! The Meringue Girls book had a recipe for a Ferrero Rocher Tower which looked delish so I've made my own version and thought I'd share it with you!
I made a couple of changes to their version including adding NUTELLA GANACHE - because, well why not?? We all know Nutella is one of my favourite things of all time!!
Nutella ganache is simple to make, the key is to remember that as Nutella is not a solid product at room temperature it will need some good quality chocolate added to the ganache to give it some stability. I use Green & Blacks as it has a nice high cocoa content and tastes delicious!
I also made my hazelnut meringues slightly differently. The original recipe calls for ground hazelnuts but I couldn't find those anywhere so I used chopped roasted instead and made my meringues with 1/2 caster sugar and 1/2 soft brown sugar to give that chewy caramelly flavour.
When it comes to making meringues my top tip is to follow the instructions to the letter. When I suggest feeling the mixture to see if the sugar is still grainy, really do it! If it's still grainy mix it just that little bit longer... trust me!! When the mixture is smooth and beautifully glossy you'll know its ready to bake!
I like to use a large ice-cream scoop to drop the mixture onto my trays, I find that's the only way I can get nice even sized meringues and it creates a beautiful shape too!
If you find they are browning too quickly it's because your oven is too hot. Invest in an oven thermometer - you should have one for your cakes anyway! Bake on a low temperature for a long time if you want them nice and chewy on the inside but crispy on the outside!
When I served this delight I also added Madagascan vanilla cream which I whipped up to be lovely and thick - I found this in Sainsbury's but you can use normal double cream and add a tsp of vanilla extract instead. I'm not a fan of cream so if I was making this just for me I wouldn't bother with the cream at all but it is a great way to finish it off!
The meringues for this dessert can be made a week or so in advance so you can knock this up just before serving. Just be sure to store them somewhere dry and cool, they don't need to go in the fridge.
150g Egg whites (I use Two Chicks cartonned egg whites)
150g Caster Sugar
150g soft brown sugar
50g Roasted chopped hazelnuts
Slice of lemon or some lemon juice (jif lemon is fine)
Heat your oven to 200degrees
Measure your sugars into a large roasting tin lined with some parchment or greaseproof paper and bake for 7 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you will want to remove it as soon as the edges start to melt.
Use the lemon to wipe out the inside of the bowl you will be mixing the egg whites in. (don't skip this step, this is essential to make sure there is no grease in the bowl that will cause your meringues to fail)
When your sugar is nearly ready use a stand mixer or an electric whisk to mix your egg whites to a nice stiff consistency. You will know they are done when you can turn the bowl upside down without them falling out!
Turn your oven down to 100degrees - leave the door open to let it cool to this temperature.
With your mixer still running on high add your hot sugar one spoonful at a time - let each spoon full combine fully before adding the next BE PATIENT or you will ruin them!
Once all the sugar is added leave on high speed for 5 minutes. After that time take some of the mixture between your fingers, if it feels smooth it is ready, if you can still feel grains keep mixing!
Add 1/2 of the hazelnuts to the mixture and fold gently through until combined.
Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper and use a large ice-cream scoop (or a large spoon) to drop 8 large meringues onto the trays. Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts over the top and then bake on 100 degrees for approx 1hour 30 mins.
To check whether the meringues are ready simply lift one gently from the paper, if it lifts easily and the base is crispy then they are ready. Turn the oven off and leave them to cool inside.
150ml double cream
75g milk chocolate broken into small chunks (see above for more tips)
1 large desert spoon Nutella
Warm the cream in the microwave for approx 1min 45 seconds or until it is piping hot but not boiling
Drop the chocolate and nutella into the cream and leave it for a minute WITHOUT stirring.
After a minute use a spoon to slowly stir through the mixture. The heat from the cream should have melted your chocolate to allow it to mix through. If it isn't fully melted pop it back in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time.
When it is completely combined place into fridge for up to an hour. You will want this to be a nice thick consistency but soft enough to use with a piping bag.
Creating your Fererro Rocher Dessert
Now its time to put it all together!
Take a pretty plate or cake stand and put several blobs of ganache onto the plate to secure your first 4 meringues.
Then use the ganache as a glue to add the next 3 on top of the bottom layer before adding your final meringue on top.
Now use the ganache to secure fererro rocher (I unwrapped mine) in any large gaps.
Place the remaining ganache into a piping bag, snip the end off and pipe it randomly all over the tower. Add some hazelnuts (whole or chopped) and then leave to set.
When you are ready to serve whip your vanilla double cream so it is lovely and thick and add large dollops of it to the tower just before bringing it to the table.
Enjoy with a large spoon and some great company!