This recipe really does deserve the title above. We had it for dessert on Boxing Day, and it was a huge hit. I was looking for an idea which I could make ahead and then assemble on the day – I really didn’t want to be cooking on Christmas Day, or early morning on Boxing Day, so I made all the component parts in advance, kept the creme patissiere in the fridge, covered, until the morning of Boxing day, and then assembled.
The creme patissiere is actually very easy to make; the flour in it stabilises it. The hardest part for me was peeling the paper off the meringues without damaging them. I had to call for an extra pair of hands for the last one.
The raspberries in this are great – hidden in the meringue layers and arranged on top – they give little pops of sharpness in contrast to the chocolate.
For the meringues:
- 6 egg whites
- 300g caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
For the creme patissiere:
- 6 egg yolks
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 300ml double cream
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream layers:
- 400g fresh raspberries
- 300ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 140C.
- Line 3 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Draw a circle 20cm diameter on each sheet (I just drew around a cake tin).
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar very slowly, beating again after each spoonful. Sieve over the cocoa powder and add the vinegar; fold this in.
- Spread the meringues onto the baking parchment circles. Bake in the oven for one hour. Then turn the oven off, and allow to cool. Note: I kept the meringues in an airtight tin.
- To make the creme patissiere, beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the cocoa and flour. Whisk together. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan. When it is hot, slowly pour the milk and cream onto the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly. Pour everything back into the saucepan and put it back on to the heat. Keep stirring. Don’t stop stirring, and bring it to the boil. It will thicken. Then take it off the heat and add the vanilla.
- Allow the creme patissiere to cool. Note: I covered it with buttered greaseproof paper and put it in the fridge.
- Whip the cream until it is firm.
- To assemble the meringue, place one meringue on your serving plate. Cover with a third of the creme patissiere. Then scatter over a quarter of the raspberries, then smooth over half the cream. Place the next meringue on top, and repeat with the chocolate, raspberries and cream. The final meringue just has chocolate creme patissiere, and half the raspberries arranged as you like.
- Like most meringue-based desserts, you don’t want to assemble this too far in advance or it will go soggy. However, this is a great dessert to impress a crowd; yesterday, this fed 8 adults, 4 children and there was still over a quarter left.