HAZELNUT MERINGUE, FRANGELICO CUSTARD & HAZELNUT CARAMEL SAUCE

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Serves 6

250ml (1 cup) cream, softly whipped, to serve
Hazelnut Meringues:
4 egg whites
190g (heaped ¾ cup) caster sugar
100g ground hazelnuts

Hazelnut Caramel Sauce:
140g chopped good-quality milk chocolate, such as couverture
30g honey
200g caster sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
250ml (1 cup) pouring cream
225g (1 2/3 cups) hazelnuts, roasted, skinned and chopped

Frangelico Custard:
6 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
50g (1/3 cup) plain flour, sifted
500ml (2 cups) milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
30ml Frangelico liqueur

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Grease and line two baking trays with baking paper.

To make the hazelnut meringue, whisk the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add one-third of the sugar and whisk until all the sugar has been used and stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar with the ground hazelnuts, mixing well. Fold into the beaten egg whites. Spread the meringue evenly over the prepared trays. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden and firm. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Use a round pastry cutter about 4.5cm in diameter, to stamp out twelve discs. Break the remaining meringue into small pieces and reserve for garnish. Store both separately in airtight containers until required.

To make the hazelnut caramel sauce, put the chocolate and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the chocolate melts. Set aside.

Put the sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil, without stirring, until the syrup becomes a dark golden colour. Immediately remove from the heat and very carefully, as hot caramel spits, stir in the cream. Pour the caramel over the melted chocolate, stirring well to combine, then fold through the hazelnuts. Cool then store in an airtight container until required.

To make the Frangelico custard, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale, then stir in the flour.

Put the milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. Pour a little hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking until smooth. Add the remaining hot milk and return to a clean saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden or heat resistant spoon, until the mixture has thickened and comes to the boil. Add the Frangelico then whisk for a further minute to ensure it is smooth. Strain into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on to the custard to prevent a skin forming. Cool.

To serve, place a large spoonful of Frangelico custard in the bases of six 250ml (1 cup) capacity serving glasses. Top with a large spoonful of the hazelnut caramel sauce, then sprinkle over a small handful of the reserved meringue pieces. Repeat to make a second layer then finish with a spoonful of cream on top. Serve the hazelnut meringues alongside.