Almond toffee meringues

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Almond toffee meringues are delicious dessert quite good for all seasons (the choice of fruit may vary). Preparation time is only 35 minutes and with 25 minutes of cooking time you can have a fantastic pudding in an hour. The process of making toffee requires the boiling of ingredients until the mix is stiff enough to be pulled into a shape which holds and has a glossy surface. Different mixes, processes, and most importantly, temperatures, will result in different textures and hardnesses, from soft and often sticky to a hard, brittle material. A brown color, and smoky taste, is imparted to the toffee by the caramelization of the sugars.

Ingredients:

oil to oil

25 g (loz) light muscovado sugar

100 g(31/2oz) egg whites (about 3 medium eggs)

225g (8oz) caster sugar

25g (loz) flaked almonds

lightly whipped cream to serve

For the marinated fruit

125 ml (4f1 oz) crème de cassis

juice of 1 orange

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

200g (7oz) raspberries

4 nectarines, halved, stoned and sliced

almond toffee meringues

Preparation:

To make the marinated fruit, put the creme de cassis, orange juice and redcurrant jelly into a small pan. Heat gently to melt, then bubble for 2-3 minutes until syrupy. Pour into a large howl to cool. Add the raspberries and nectarines and stir gent[y. Cover and chill.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven) mark 3 and preheat the grill. Lightly oil a baking sheet and sprinkle the muscovado sugar over it. Grill for 2-3 minutes until the sugar begins to bubble and caramelise. Cool for about 15 minutes, then break. the sugar into a food processor and whiz to a coarse powder.

Put the egg whites and caster sugar into a large, clean bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the egg white is warm (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and place on a teatowel. Beat with a hand-held electric whisk for at least 15 minutes or until cold and glossy and standing in stiff, shiny peaks when the whisk is lifted. Cover two baking sheets with baking parchment. Fold half the powdered sugar into the meringue mixture. Spoon four oval mounds on to the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between each. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and the remaining powdered sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave in the oven to dry out overnight. Serve with the marinated fruit and lightly whipped cream.

Hint

Make sure the bowl does not touch the hot water while you make the meringues. The flavour of the marinated fruit will be even better if you chill it overnight (If the syrup thickens during chilling, stir in 1-2 tbsp orange juice).