Mocha cream meringue squares

Serves: 9
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • 8 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 120g hazelnuts, ground to a powder
  • 150ml cream
  • 1tsp instant coffee powder or granules
  • 6 egg yolks (freeze the remaining 2 whites)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 leaf of gelatine
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1tbs coffee extract
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 20g grated dark chocolate, cocoa nibs or chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)

For the hazelnut meringue:
1 Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (200 fan). Line two rectangular baking trays with parchment paper.

2 Begin to whisk the egg whites until frothy, then add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk until the whites reach stiff peaks.

3 Sift in the icing sugar and add the ground hazelnuts, then gently fold them through the meringue until evenly combined, taking care not to knock the air out.

4 Divide the mixture between the two trays, then using a palette knife or spatula, spread the top until smooth.

5 Bake the trays in the preheated oven for about six to eight minutes; the sponge should be pale golden brown around the edges and springy and dry to touch.

6 Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

For the mocha cream:
1 Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan with the instant coffee over a medium heat.

2 Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until combined and soak the gelatine leaf in a small bowl of cold water.

3 When the cream is simmering, slowly pour over the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Cook the mixture for about 30 seconds until it coats the back of a spoon and thickens slightly (about 75 degrees on a thermometer, if using).

4 Remove from the heat, squeeze the water from the gelatine leaf and add it into the hot mixture, whisking well to dissolve.

5 Pour the hot mix over the chopped chocolate and stir until completely melted.

6 Add in the coffee extract, then add a teaspoon of butter at a time, whisking until all the butter has been emulsified.

7 Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm, and allow to cool for about an hour to room temperature.

To assemble:
1 Line a 20 x 20cm square tin with parchment paper.

2 Cut the hazelnut meringue into four squares to fit the square tin. If you have any scraps, you can use these to make another layer.

3 Place a sponge square on the bottom of the tin, and alternate with mocha cream and sponge, finishing with mocha cream.

4 Sprinkle with topping of choice and place in the freezer for at least an hour or until set enough to cut into nine squares to serve.

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan is a pastry chef and culinary consultant. She writes a weekly baking column for the Irish Times Magazine