Market ingredient: Australian Gourmet Hazelnuts, from Mudgee
Difficulty: Not hard, just takes time
Deliciousness: Sweet with a hint of bitterness
Did The Beard’s friend Jim like it? The praline was a bit bitter for his liking
It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged about something I’ve cooked. Pretty lame, I know. Apologies. No excuse other than the fact that I’ve been lazy. So lazy in that I’d actually cooked this particular dish 3 weeks ago and it has taken me this long to write it up. What I actually really liked about this particular recipe is that is was part of an impromptu dinner party The Beard and I had one Saturday night with AOB & Jim. For no reason at all other than we just felt like it. Now the Hazelnut Guy at Eveleigh is pretty new. Seems to swap in and out with the Macadamia Nut Guy. Selling these goodies roasted or raw, ground or whole, they were really delicious. Much like the Macadamias I’ve used before, there’s something to be said for fresh nuts that haven’t been sitting in a supermarket for months on end. These are so much more flavoursome.
I have a soft spot for meringues as it reminds me of being a child and cooking with my Grandmother. We used to ALWAYS make ‘rangs’ with her when we were kids. One of my fondest memories of Janie is standing with her in their kitchen in Woonona and holding a bowl of perfectly whipped meringue mixture upside down above our heads as a test for whether the mixture was ready or not. If the mixture is firm enough, it will remain in the bowl. If not, it would fall out on your head. Janie was so good at meringue that not once did it fall out on my head 🙂
Now this particular recipe was pretty easy. I’d adapted it somewhat from a recipe I found online (and I can no longer find the link – sorry whoever’s recipe this was), which had a chocolate sauce over it. I ditched the sauce and served it with fresh strawberries in stead. Just felt like it was a really rich dessert anyway and the strawberries would nicely cut through that creamy richness. Again, I struggled with the brittle (I don’t know why, but I always seem to burn caramel) so it was a little too bitter, but hey, not a bad attempt.
Ingredients for hazelnut meringue stack with hazelnut praline cream
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 tspn lemon juice
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 100g icing sugar
- 50g hazelnuts, ground
- fresh strawberries to serve
- Grated dark chocolate to serve
For the hazelnut praline cream:
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g hazelnuts
- 150ml cream
- Heat the oven to 120C. Place the hazelnuts on a tray and roast in the oven until they start to darken. Remove and let cool. Grind in a food processor.
- For the meringues, whisk the egg whites & lemon juice until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar until stiff. Add the icing sugar and hazelnuts and fold through until evenly combined.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and pipe or spoon our rounds of meringue into small disks (about 6 cm or so in diameter). You’ll need 3 rounds per person. Bake for 1.5 – 2 hrs.
- To make the praline, warm a small heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and cook the caster sugar until it melts and turns a rich caramel colour. Pour the mixture out on to a tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle some of the ground hazelnuts over the brittle and let cool.
- To serve, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Finely chop the cooled praline by hand or roughly in a food processor. Stir most of it through the cream, leaving some to the side for garnishing. Place 1 meringue disk on each plate and top with a little cream. Add another disk, more cream, followed by the final disk. Top with chopped fresh strawberries, grated chocolate and the remaining brittle.
I really quite enjoyed this dish, but as I said, the brittle was a little bitter. Not really a problem in itself, but I wouldn’t have put so much through the cream if I’d realised it was so bitter. Additionally, being the muppet that I am, I accidently ground up all of the hazelnuts instead of leaving some whole to actually stir through the brittle. It would have been better with chunks of nuts, I think.