17 Dec // Tis the season for meringues

I found myself in a heated debate about Christmas desserts the other day: team pavlova was coming in hot, amidst polarising opinions on trifle (I’m a huge fan, but if there’s jelly in there I’m out). Brandy snaps had wide-spread nostalgic appeal, and Christmas pudding - a tradition in our family, and always flamed with brandy - didn’t even get a mention.

Meringues are an underrated addition to the Christmas dessert table. They can be made in advance and can be served individually or smashed into a bowl with berries and cream to make eton mess, an always impressive dessert. When Chelsea Sugar asked me to come up with a recipe for some fun festive baking, meringues were a no brainer. Festive as.

Doing dinner parties for people, I became a big fan of an individually plated version of Eton Mess: simply serving a meringue a little smashed, with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a mixture of fresh and freeze dried berries, plus some edible flower petals for good measure. You could add berry compote or lemon curd or even chocolate sauce if you wanted too. Beautiful to look at, and even better to eat.

I love my meringues crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside, which is exactly what these ones are, but with the added bonus of chunks throughout. The chunks here are courtesy of dark chocolate, the pop and tartness of freeze-dried cherries, and then toasted almonds. It’s such a good festive combination, and they’re damn easy to make. This recipe will feature on the Chelsea Sugar website, where there is heaps more festive baking inspiration.  

To serve these you could:

  • Make mini ones and gift them in little cellophane of brown paper bags, stamped or tied up with cute Christmassy ribbon.

  • Take them to work for a Christmas morning tea.

  • Serve them individually for dessert with a dollop of cream or creme anglaise and your favourite festive fresh fruit.

  • Smash them into a bowl of Eton Mess, again with cream and the berries.  

  • You could eat them for breakfast with coffee.   

Since Christmas is just over a week away, there’s definitely still time to crank some Christmas music and get in the kitchen. Unashamedly, belting out tunes at the top of my lungs whilst baking up a storm is one of my favourite things about this time of year.

Dark chocolate, cherry, and almond meringues

Adapted from an Annabel Langbein recipe

Ingredients

5 large egg whites (at room temperature, and at least a week old)

Pinch of salt

160g Chelsea Caster Sugar

160g Chelsea Icing Sugar

1/2  tsp good quality vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate, cut into small chunks

½ cup almonds, chopped and dry toasted in a frying pan

1 cup freeze-dried cherries

Method

Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until quite stiff. Add the Chelsea Caster Sugar and beat on high for ten minutes, until glossy and thick. Add the Chelsea Icing Sugar and the vanilla, and fold together with a spoon. Add the chocolate, cherries, and almonds, and mix together gently until well incorporated.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto the tray, using either a dessert spoon or a teaspoon (depending on how big you want to make them). Note: I sprinkled a little bit of crushed up freeze-dried cherry onto mine before baking but they went black. So save this until after they’re cooked!

Reduce the oven temperature to 120C and place the trays in the oven. Bake for one hour, and then turn the oven off but leave the meringues in the oven until cool. They will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.

This blog post was a collaboration with Chelsea Sugar.