Mini Hazelnut, Cherry, and Chocolate Pavlovas

Mini Hazelnut, Cherry, and Chocolate Pavlovas

My main issue with cooking, besides the endless washing up, is that I constantly have leftovers in pots around the kitchen. Consequentially, what I cook next is often influenced by what’s leftover, which doesn’t make for very interesting blog posts. In particular I always seem to end up with spare egg whites floating around which I feel compelled to do something with on the same day they’re separated, before they go off or become too runny. When I was making the ice cream for my hazelnut cake post (I made these a long time ago, I haven’t kept the egg whites in m’ fridge for all this time!) I had some egg whites leftover so I decided to whip them up into some hazelnut meringue nests to work with.

Luckily meringues last for a good while in a solid air-tight tin, so once I’d made them I could tuck them away until I’d worked out what to do with them. So when I realised we had some whipped cream and poached cherries in the fridge I had my answer – mini hazelnut, cherry and chocolate pavalovas. These are perfect little desserts which can be prepped well in advance, and then put together at the last minute. You can also switch in any kind of soft fruit you like to fit the seasonal fruits available.

(Meringues are kinda my default go-to for leftover egg whites, but I’ve got a list of other ways to use them up at the end of my chocolate fondants post if you’re interested!)

Recipe

Serves 6

Time: 1 hour, plus baking

Ingredients

For the Daquoise

  • 100g Chopped hazelnuts
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 9g Cornflour
  • 2 Large egg whites
  • Pinch salt

For the Cherries

  • 200g Frozen cherries
  • 4 tbsp Kirsch
  • 1 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 2 tsp Ground cinnamon

For the Filling

  • 300ml Whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste

To Decorate

  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • A few sprigs of mint

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Begin by making the daquoise. Put the hazelnuts into a small roasting tin and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until just starting to colour. (This is an important step as it’ll massively increase the flavour of the nuts).
  3. Leave to cool and then mix with 75g of the sugar and the cornflour. Set to one side for later.
  4. Lower the oven temperature to 150˚C for the meringues. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Take a round object with a diameter of roughly 5cm and draw round it onto the sheets of baking paper to act as a guide for piping later. You should get about 3 onto each sheet. Turn these sheets over so that the pencil line is on the other side of the paper to that which you’ll pipe on.
  5. Take a super clean metal or glass bowl and put the egg whites into it.
  6. Add the salt and then whisk with an electric hand whisk (or a stand-free mixer) until it forms soft peaks (can just hold it’s shape).
  7. Continue whisking and add the other 125g caster sugar, one 1 tbsp at a time until it’s all incorporated.
  8. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes glossy and forms a stiff peak.
  9. Then take a large, stiff spatula and gently fold the hazelnuts into the meringue. From here you’ll need to work quickly as the oils in the nuts will start to deflate the meringue.
  10. Take a piping bag with a round nozzle and fill it with the meringue. Then pipe onto the lined baking trays. Start at the middle of one of your circles and when you get to the edge pipe upwards in a circle round the edge to build the meringues into little nests. Do the same for each circle.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until crisp to the touch but not starting to brown. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the ovens.
  12. Now prep the filling. Put the cherries into a pan and heat gently until they simmer in their juice and are soft. Then add the kirsch, sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine and then leave to simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove the cherries from the heat and leave to cool in the juices.
  13. Then take 3/4 of the chocolate and melt it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Take a pastry/paintbrush and paint the inside of the meringues with it. This will add some flavour and will also stop the cream from making the meringue soggy. Leave to set.
  14. Meanwhile make the cream filling. Put the whipping cream and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it just holds its shape.
  15. When the chocolate is set spoon the cream into the meringues. Take the cherries and scoop them out of the juice – save this juice for later! Dry the cherries slightly on some kitchen roll and then distribute them between the meringues, about 3 on each.
  16. Take a vegetable peeler and run it along the edge of the rest of the chocolate over the meringues to get little sprinkles on them. Garnish with fresh mint and serve with the rest of the cherry juice!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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