date and walnut nougat meringues
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An airy pillow of meringue crisp on the outside, meltingly soft inside with jammy dates and crunchy walnuts locked in caramelised sugar like in amber… like the description? Wait till you taste it.
If you love meringues (and who doesn’t?), adore nougat (those hols in Provence…) and can’t resist marshmallows (everybody, secretly), prepare to be blown away. I can honestly not imagine a lovelier confection than these date and walnut nougat meringues.
I adore the glossy beaten egg white mountains, possibly the reason why I like skiing so much – looking at sun-glistening peaks of dazzling white always makes me think of my favourite sweets. Meringue kisses, nests, sandwiches, marshmallowy meringues, nougaty meringues, a plethora of pavlovas, dacquoise and macarons; croquants, îles flottantes, Eton mess and – this is a sudden epiphany – meringue roulade filled with Swiss meringue buttercream.
My biggest dream (well, one of them) is to make sugarless meringues. There’s so much you can do with and from meringue it’s highly annoying there isn’t a low-calorie option. Wouldn’t it be nice to serve mushroom-flavoured meringues atop a perfect juicy steak? Crunchy Parmesan meringues in Caesar salad instead of croutons? Or super-spicy meringue shards in a cold beef sandwich?
Sadly, it seems a non-starter unless I resort to using weird unappetising sounding substances like vegetable gums, inulin or polydextrose and that’s something I definitely won’t do to my meringues; sweets they will have to remain.
This recipe is a result of my fleeting fascination with meringue with dates featured in Moje Wypieki (My Baking) followed by a ‘is it a thing?’ research via date and walnut cookies from Food.com. You might think it’s not for you because you don’t like dates – wrong thinking, the dates jammily dissolve into sweetness within the fragile meringue hearts. You might not be fond of cookies with walnuts in them – these ain’t cookies and walnuts are but a nutty chewiness added to the firm on the outside, super-soft but not sticky inside white piles of allure. And finally, to put it simply: some people like chewy meringues, some prefer it firm and dry and these will please both kinds.
date and walnut nougat meringuesServings: makes 10-12 meringuesTime: 2 hours 30 minutes
- 3 large egg whites (about 100g)
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp. demerara sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 130g (1 cup) soft pitted dates, chopped
- 100g (¾ cup) walnut halves, chopped
1. Beat the egg whites with a mixer’s balloon whisk attachment until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed until stiff peaks.
2. Start adding both sugars by a teaspoon beating all the time; the resulting meringue should be very stiff and glossy. Mix in the cinnamon.
3. Fold in the dates and walnuts with a spatula.
4. Preheat the oven to 100C/200F/gas ¼. Line a large baking tray with parchment; you can stick the parchment to the tray with dots of meringue.
5. Dollop tablespoons of the mix on the parchment; run the back of a clean spoon around the meringues to tidy them up a bit.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 90 minutes until set but not coloured; take care when testing with your fingers as they will be very fragile even when fully baked. Leave them in the switched off, slightly ajar oven until cold.
7. Transfer the cold meringues gently to an airtight container.