Recently, I have been having a slight baking crisis. From a young age, my mum always let me help with baking treats in the kitchen and whenever friends came over, packet fairy cake mixes with edible sugar paper toppers were made and quickly demolished. Despite enjoying baking from a young age it wasn’t until my first year of college where I really started to get into baking. Christmas 2010 was when I received a cookbook titled 1001 Cakes, Bakes and More and as I am such a Monica, I eagerly bookmarked all the recipes I wanted to bake for the year ahead.
Many ambitious and questionable bakes were made and as I practiced more and more, the more I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen. My cookbook collection grew, as did my ‘baking repertoire’ and I began to keep a collection of my favourite recipes. Back then, I was cooking things that I had never made before and everything was so new and exciting.
Now, with a full-time job, boring-adult responsibilities and a chronic illness, I don’t get to bake nearly as much as I would like. I’m lucky if I get a spare morning to dedicate just to experimenting in the kitchen and on the mornings (usually a Sunday) when I do dedicate time for baking, I’m always conscious to speed right through the recipe, to get on with the rest of my chores of the day.
I’ve been wanting to make these hazelnut and mocha meringues for some time now, probably since about May when I had something similar in a local cafe. But having the time, or energy, to try something new in the kitchen has been somewhat lacking as of late. Making these delicious squares this past weekend, however, has reignited my love of baking again. I want to make a promise to myself to be a bit more experimental with what I create in the kitchen – adapting old favourites and trying new ones. The baking world is vast and endless – I definitely won’t get to try it all – but I can give it a damn good go.
These hazelnut and mocha meringue squares are from the cookbook, Fika & Hygge. They are simple to bake, but they do require a bit of patience while you wait for the meringue to bake and cool. The mocha buttercream though is certainly worth it. You will also need a food processor or blender with a grinder attachment in order to grind the hazelnuts down to a fine crumb.
Ingredients for the meringue
- 100g hazelnuts
- 5 egg whites, (reserve one egg yolk for the buttercream)
- 200g icing sugar
Ingredients for the mocha buttercream
- 170g caster sugar
- 115ml water
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 250g butter softened
- 1 egg yolk (reserved from earlier)
- 50g dark chocolate, melted
- Begin by pre-heating the oven to 150oc and lining a large rectangular tray (approx 35x25cm) with greaseproof paper
- Next, put all of the hazelnuts into a food processor and blitz until it produces a fine crumb. Once ready, set aside
- Whip up the egg whites in a clean glass or metal bowl using an electric whisk. Once doubled in volume and foamy, start to add in a spoonful of icing sugar, while still whisking, until all the sugar is used up. The mixture should be stiff and glossy. Next, using a large spatula, fold in the hazelnut crumbs until thoroughly combined
- Pour the mixture onto the baking tray and smooth over evenly with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Start by placing the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, take off the heat and add the instant coffee. Stir until dissolved and then leave to cool down for 10 or so minutes until it is lukewarm
- In a large bowl, add the butter, egg yolk and coffee and using an electric whisk, whisk the ingredients until they start to come together. This will take a few minutes and you don’t think it will combine, but it will. Once the buttercream is smooth and glossy, whisk in the melted dark chocolate until combined
- Once the meringue mixture is cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool. Gently peel off the baking paper and trim the edges with a sharp knife to make it neat
- To assemble, cut the meringue into thirds using a sharp knife, creating three large, equal, rectangles. Dollop a thick layer of buttercream onto one of the rectangles, smooth until even, and top with another meringue rectangle. Dollop the remaining buttercream onto this middle rectangle, smooth over and place the final rectangle on top. Leave for an hour or so (this allows the meringue to soften up making it easier to cut) before cutting into 8 squares and dusting with icing sugar.