Mocha Meringue Torte with Hazelnut Crumble
6 egg whites
1½ cups caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp good quality cocoa (not just drinking chocolate powder)
1½ tbsp corn flour
FOR THE CRUMBLE
¹/³cup peeled hazelnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp coarse salt
4 digestive biscuits (Wheatens or substitute with amaretti or other GF biscuit for gluten-free)
FOR THE FILLING
150ml whipping cream
150ml custard (see note)
1 super sweet ristretto, cooled (really strong shot of coffee with lots of sugar and very little liquid)
1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
2. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar while still beating, then fold in the vinegar, and sifted corn flour and cocoa.
3. Spread into 4 circles on baking trays lined with paper. Try and keep the meringue about 2cm thick. Go gently, and try to spread evenly, but don’t squish the air out – a wavy surface is fine.
4. Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and leave the door ajar until trays are cool enough to touch (about 20 minutes).
5. Whip up the cream until it’s nicely stiff, then fold in the custard and coffee. The density will soften a little.
6. Spread a quarter of the cream over a layer of meringue, then add another, and continue to layer like lasagna. Cover loosely with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving – preferably overnight.
7. Grind the hazelnuts and biscuits in a blender, then rub together with the brown sugar and butter.
8. Toast the crumble in a dry pan for a few minutes, turning frequently. Switch off the heat as soon as the mix begins to colour, and continue to stir until the pan cools. This is very easy to burn, so don’t take your eye off it until the heat is out.
9. Remove the torte from the freezer and cover generously with warm crumble to serve.
Purists might want to make their own custard (especially with all those leftover egg yolks), but there are plenty of good quality store-bought options. Don’t scrimp – you can tell the difference, and cheap versions are less likely to whip up nicely. A fantastic option is the Tiramisu dessert base by Elle et Vire.