Tuesday Treat

Florentine Meringue Cake (Serves 6-8)

This is a real show-stopping dessert and one which is perfect for the Christmas season. It’s my interpretation of a recipe I found in Skye McAlpine’s cookbook ‘A Table for Friends’ which layers meringue with a marron glacé-cream filling. I found that this version was overly sweet, plus it seemed a rather extravagant use of the expensive candied ‘marrons’; McAlpine does suggest similar additions such as candied peel, so I started playing around with different cream-filling combinations. I can proudly say I’ve come up with the ultimate meringue cake one which, as its name suggests, is inspired by a favourite of mine, florentines! Despite being incredibly easy to make it looks incredibly impressive on the dinner table; topped with redcurrants frosted with sugar it makes the perfect winter dessert – a fantastic centrepiece for a Christmas celebration!…

300g caster sugar

6 egg whites

2 teaspoons cornflour

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

4 tablespoons icing sugar

700ml double cream

200g plain dark chocolate, roughly chopped

40g candied peel, chopped

20-30g soft caramel sweets (I use Werther’s Soft Caramels), roughly chopped

30g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

To decorate:

Redcurrant sprigs

3 tablespoons caster sugar

*You will need three baking trays and grease-proof paper.

  1. On three separate pieces of grease-proof paper draw a circle roughly 23cm in diameter (you could trace around a cake tin). Place each piece of paper on separate baking trays and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar. Once the egg whites are stiff and glossy gently fold in the cornflour and vinegar. Divide the meringue evenly between the baking trays, using the circles as a guide.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven, 130’c fan, for 1 hour, then switch off the oven and leave the meringues there to harden for another hour.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosted redcurrants (if using to decorate). Simply dip the redcurrant sprigs in water, then gently roll in the caster sugar and set aside to dry out.
  5. When you are ready to serve the meringue cake, sift the icing sugar into the cream and whip until firm but still silky.
  6. Set one of the meringue discs on a serving plate and top with one-third of the cream and sprinkle over a third of the chopped plain chocolate, candied peel, caramel and pistachios. Top with the second meringue disc and repeat. Finally, top with the third meringue, followed by the remaining cream, chocolate, candied peel, caramel and pistachios.
  7. Finally, if using, decorate the top of the cake with the frosted sprigs of redcurrants.
  8. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve, it will keep for up to 12 hours.

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