Hazelnut and strawberry vacherin
This extra special dessert can also double up as a birthday cake with some indoor sparklers or birthday candles pressed into the top meringue layer.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 11/4-11/2 hours
For the meringue
50 g (2 oz) hazelnuts
2 teaspoons cornflour
4 medium egg whites
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream
100 g (4 oz) 0% fat fromage frais
150 g (5 oz) raspberries
400 g (14 oz) strawberries, hulled, chopped
50 g (2 oz) dark chocolate, melted
Few toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts, optional
- Preheat the oven to 110oC/225oF/ Gas Mark ¼. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and draw on 3, 20 cm (8 inch) circles. Grill the hazelnuts until golden then finely chop or grind in a liquidiser or food processor until similar to breadcrumbs then mix with the cornflour.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks and the bowl can be turned upside down without the egg whites sliding in the bowl. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a teaspoonful at a time and continue whisking once all the sugar has been added for a minute or two until the meringue is very thick and glossy.
- Fold in the finely chopped hazelnuts then spoon the meringue into a large piping bag fitted with a 1 cm (1/2 inch) plain piping tube and pipe three meringue circles starting in the centre of each drawn circle or spoon meringue on to the paper and spread with a round bladed knife if preferred.
- Bake for 11/4-11/2 hours or until the meringue circles can be lifted easily from the paper. Leave to cool still on the paper.
- When ready to serve, whisk the cream in a bowl until it forms very soft peaks then fold in the fromage frais. Transfer one of the meringues to a serving plate, spoon over one third of the cream mixture then sprinkle with one third of the fruit and drizzle with a little of the chocolate. Cover with a second meringue then repeat the layers ending with fruit, extra hazelnuts if using and drizzles of melted chocolate.