xmas 2023 - spiced praline meringues

My gas oven must be about 4 or 5 years old now and whilst I've worked out how to bake bread, pastries, biscuits and cakes, I've never really mastered meringues. For this bake for Xmas Week 2023, I turned to the master of meringues,
Ottolenghi, for the recipe, then baked them on the top shelf with my gas oven on the lowest setting and voila, I had the most perfect looking meringues.

Here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Spiced Praline Meringues - makes 6 (extra-large) or 12 (regular-sized)
50g blanched almonds
300g caster sugar
25ml water
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
finely grated zest of 1 large orange (1 tbsp)
¼ tsp flaky sea salt
150g egg whites (from 5 large eggs)

Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Spread the almonds out on a small baking tray and roast in the oven for 5–7 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Line two large baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place 50g of sugar in a small saucepan with the water and stir to combine. Cook over a high heat for about 4 minutes, until it has turned a light golden brown; do not stir, just gently shake the pan to help the sugar dissolve. Add the almonds and cook for 1 minute, so the nuts are coated and the caramel turns dark, without burning. Pour the mixture on to one of the lined baking trays and set aside until cool.

Once cool, break the praline into smaller pieces, place in a food processor and blitz to form a rough powder. Remove from the machine and place in a shallow bowl with the spices, orange zest and salt. Mix, then set aside until ready to use.

Spread the remaining sugar out on the second lined baking tray and place in the oven for 7 minutes, until the sugar is hot. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 130°C, conventional. As soon as the sugar is out of the oven, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place, and whisk on a high speed until they begin to froth up. Carefully add the hot sugar to the whisking egg whites, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating for 7–8 minutes until the mixture is completely cold. At this point it should be silky and thick and keep its shape when you lift a little bit from the bowl.

Line the two large baking trays once again with baking parchment. Use an extra-large serving spoon to scoop up some meringue, and use another large spoon to help shape it into a rough ball the size of a large apple. Sprinkle some praline over half the meringue ball, then place on the baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, spacing the balls about 10cm apart to allow room for increase in size.

Place the meringues in the oven for 2–2½ hours. Check that they are done by lifting them from the tray and gently tapping to make sure the outside is completely firm and the centre is only a little soft. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool completely.

They look so pretty don't they and the spiced praline is so good, I ate it by the spoonful. 

See you all again tomorrow with the final bake for Xmas Week 2023. 

Bye for now, 


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