Actually no it is not another old chestnut, this a very lovely new one…

Hazelnut, Chocolate Meringue Cake with Chestnut Cream.
This delicious cake is a great alternative to Christmas pudding and other stodgy desserts you find at this time of year.
The meringues are soft and sweet, the hazelnuts add a delightful crunchy texture, the cream is seasonal and delicious and for me chocolate is just a must!
Definitely a show stopper for the Christmas table. The great thing is this could be made ahead of time, frozen and then brought out for the day. A great time and stress saver!

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Ingredients
serves 4-6 – this mix could be doubled for a truly impressive, centerpiece for a big family gathering.

x 6 egg whites
x pinch of salt
x 1 can of chestnut puree
x 100g icing sugar
x 500ml whipping cream
x 300g chocolate, any you prefer, I did a mix of ¾  55% and ¼ 26% white chocolate.
x 300g of blanched hazelnuts.

Method
Firstly start off with the meringues.
Separate 6 eggs put the whites in a bowl ready to whisk, please do not throw away the yolks set aside and use to make scrambled egg for breakfast.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk on a medium to high setting, whip until soft peaks of formed, then start gradually adding the sugar. Keep whisking until you have firm peaks then add the vanilla and whisk through.
Draw 3/4  8 cm circles onto nonstick baking paper and dollop equal amounts of meringue onto each circle then spread out with the back of a spoon into neat rounds, or rough and ready ones, whichever your preference…
Bake for 1 1/5 hours on 100 degrees then open door turn heat off and leave to cool completely in the oven as it cools.

Onto the cream…
Whip cream until thick, add 3/4 of the chestnut puree and 100 g of the icing sugar. Whip cream to form medium peaks, be careful not to over whip and split the cream.
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie until liquid. Set aside for a moment.
Roast blanched hazelnuts for 10 minutes on a baking tray at 180 degrees removed and bash into bits in a tea towel, set aside for assembly.

Assembly.
Assemble on cling film/a plate that can be frozen.
To assemble this delicious mountain of a cake firstly start with a bottom of meringue. Slab on a spoonful of remaining puree, dash on some melted chocolate (cooled) and dollop on some chestnut cream and shape into a round just inside the meringue, sprinkle on some hazelnuts, and add another layer of meringue…. Do the same until all layers are done top the final cream topping with chocolate – although I would leave this stage until serving if freezing cake ahead of time.

This cake can be a nightmare to cut as cream billows from the sides under pressure, so the suggestion with meringue cakes is to freeze, cut a few hours later and either serve that day when thawed or cut and keep freezing until needed. I would leave for more than a week, just for personal preference.
Once you have the final cream and hazelnuts wrap the cake with clingfilm and freeze. Once cut and ready to serve melt chocolate and drizzle over at the table. Serve the pre cut wedges to the delighted members of your party.
From freezing it will need about 6 hours to thaw completely, so get out on Christmas Day morning ready for lunch.

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This means my decadent desserts is done… Now onto the turkey, the carrots, the sprouts, the wine, the nog, the gifts, the wrapping, the starters, the hampers the cards….. Well you know!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Bon Voyage, Seasons Greetings and all that jazz…

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Love Bake Love
Janine