Italian Meringue with Baked Apricots & Hazelnut Cream
Light Italian meringue, sweet baked apricots and a delicious hazelnut cream are a match made in heaven. This dessert would go down a storm at a dinner party. Take the sugar water up to 120°C on your Thermapen before adding to the egg whites to ensure the perfect glossy meringue to impress your guests.
For the meringue
3 egg whites
170g golden caster sugar
For the apricots
450g fresh ripe apricots, halved & pitted
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
For the hazelnut & vanilla cream
240ml whipping cream
2 tbsp fine sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g roasted chopped hazelnuts
To make the meringue
1. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
2. Put the sugar and 4 tbsp of water into a small pan over a low-medium heat, swirling the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and simmer until it reads 120°C on your Thermapen.
3. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, avoiding pouring directly onto the beaters. Turn the bowl, if using electric beaters, to ensure all the egg white is incorporated with the syrup.
4. Once the mixture is combined, continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes until thick and shiny.
5. Heat the oven to 170°C / 150°C fan / gas 3. Pipe or spoon the meringue onto a baking tray lined with paper and put into the oven. Turn down the heat to 150°C / 130°C fan/gas 2 and cook for 40 minutes.
6. Turn off the oven and leave in the oven for 1 hour.
7. Move to cooling racks to cool completely.
To make the apricots
1. Preheat the oven to 200° C / 180°C fan / gas 6 and generously butter a large baking dish.
2. Facing cut-side up, place the apricot halves in one layer in the buttered baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and bake until tender and the apricots are caramelised with the sugar but still retain their shape. This should take around 15 minutes.
4. Garnish with chopped fresh rosemary.
To make the hazelnut & vanilla cream
1. Combine the sugar, vanilla extract and cream and whip until soft peaks form.
2. Gently fold in the nuts and spread a thick layer over your meringue. Top with the apricots and drizzle with any excess cooking liquor.
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