I recently (and kindly) got sent some vanilla bean paste and extract from Singing Dog Vanilla, a top quality vanilla company based in the US. We don’t seem to have much choice for vanilla brands in the UK so it was nice to get my hands on something new to try, and not wanting to hang about, put their vanilla straight into this recipe. These crunchy meringue bites are spiked with vanilla extract and a tiny bit of bean paste then dipped in chocolate and rolled in toasted almonds, making them pleasant little bursts of flavour and texture. The recipe method is adapted from the Meringue Girls as I don’t think anything I could come up with would top theirs!
Now for the fun part, I’m hosting my first giveaway! 3 of you lucky readers could win a jar of this excellent vanilla bean paste. Entry details at the bottom, or in the EXTRAS section of the blog!
300g caster sugar
4 medium egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
A tiny bit vanilla bean paste to paint striped on the inside of the piping bag with (optional)
75g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to fan180/200c/7. Line a large roasting tin with baking paper and pour in the sugar, evening out to make a thin layer. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes to warm the sugar, just until the edges begin to melt.
In the meantime put the egg whites into a free standing mixture, fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a handheld, electric whisk). Whisk slowly at first, until bubbles begin to form, then up the speed to the top and whisk until the egg whites are shiny and form stiff peaks.
Remove the hot sugar from the oven and turn it down to fan80/100c/½, leaving the door slightly ajar to speed up the cool-down. Add the sugar, tablespoon by spoon, to the stiff meringue whilst still whisking on full speed. Avoid any clumps of sugar or any parts which have caramelised. Once the last spoon has been added, add the vanilla extract then leave the mixture whisking of full speed for 5-7 minutes until you can pinch the stiff meringue and not feel any sugary graininess.
Now it’s time for piping. Attach a plain and reasonably wide nozzle to a large piping bag and lining to baking trays with parchment. If you want the meringues to have a subtle striped effect, brush lines of vanilla bean paste down the inside of the piping bag. Carefully fill the bag with meringue and pipe little blobs onto the trays, quickly pulling up at the end so they have a spiked top. Bake for about 45 in the oven before turning off and leaving them to dry in the heat of the oven as it cools.
When the meringues are properly dried you’ll be able to pick them off the trays with their bottoms remaining intact, meaning it’s then time for the finishing touches. Heat a frying pan and throw in the almonds. Toast for a few minutes until they begin to pick up a darker colour and smell, well, toasty. Remove from the heat and either finely chop or pulse a few times in a food processor. Melt the chocolate for about 60 seconds (stiring half way through) in a microwave. Tip each meringue’s bottom in the melted chocolate then roll in the chopped almonds. Leave to set, and then eat!
Now for the Giveaway. To be in a chance with winning a jar of the vanilla bean paste I used in this recipe,go through the stages of the rafflecopter which includes following me on bloglovin and twitter. I’ll contact you via private message via either of this sites to ask for your address to pass on to Singing Dog if you win.
Singing Dog have said they’ll send the the paste straight from them and will be willing to ship it wherever you may be. How cool are they?
Also, make sure you retweet about the giveaway. Singing Dog deserve as much exposure as we can give them, their products truly are great!
I’m proper excited to be doing this and I genuinely hope you win!