My Granny on my mother’s side of the family was a wonderful woman and famed for many things, but baking wasn’t one of them. Nonetheless, she understood the importance of adding a sense of occasion to dessert and every time my cousins and I went to visit our cries of ‘what’s for pudding?’ were answered with a tantalizing ‘wait and see’.
The ‘wait and see’ in question was inevitably shop-bought meringues filled with sweetened whipped cream, fresh fruit and a little chocolate if we were lucky. A secret family recipe of sorts, the secret being that we weren’t supposed to know our Granny hadn’t made the meringues herself.
With this recipe, I’ve tried to give ‘wait and see’ a new lease of life using some of my favourite flavours. Glossy meringue is swirled with dark chocolate before being piped into nests and filled with a feather-light chestnut mousse. I top the mousse with few fresh blackberries, if in season, before finishing it all off with a shower of chocolate shavings and a dusting of icing sugar.
It is possible to make meringue with a hand-held whisk and a lot of elbow grease – indeed this is the method my Granny might have used when she was young, had she been inclined – but it’s a whole lot easier using a Kenwood stand mixer which whips egg whites into pillows of perfection in just minutes.
Fill your meringues just before serving to ensure the perfect contrast of crisp shell and smooth mousse. The empty nests will last in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 16 nests
- To make the chestnut mousse, combine the gelatin and 3 tbsp water in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 tbsp water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile start to whip the egg whites in a stand mixer on slow. When the sugar syrup reaches 110°C on a candy thermometer, pour it over the egg whites, turn the speed up to medium and continue mix until the bowl feels barely warm and the egg whites are smooth and glossy.
- Microwave the gelatin and water mixture for 12 seconds then whisk into the whipped cream. Fold in the chestnut puree followed by the egg whites. Pour into a container and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- To make the meringues, melt the chocolate in a microwave or a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of boiling water. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. With the whisk still running, slowly add the caster sugar, 50g at a time, and continue to whisk until smooth, thick and glossy. Sift the icing sugar over the meringue mixture and fold in. Swirl the cooled melted chocolate into the meringue, transfer to a piping bag and pipe sixteen meringue nests onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 1 and ½ hours until crisp.
- To assemble your meringues, transfer the set chestnut mousse to a piping bag and divide between the nests. Top with blackberries, if using, scatter over the chocolate shavings and sift a little icing sugar over each meringue. Serve immediately.
* The blogger contributing to this site has received a Kenwood Kitchen Machine to use as part of the recipe creation, any opinion stated by the blogger and their content is the bloggers own.