There's a patisserie on the edge of Place des Vosges in Paris that has the most incredible meringues -- they're massive pink, brown, green and white beauties and you can see hordes of Parisians desperately trying to avoid breaking them as they head off to work.
For me, a meringue has to be crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, like these.
The tip with these monkeys is to have the oven higher than you need it until you pop the meringues in, then notch it down.
Makes 12-16 meringues
you will need
For the meringues 6 egg whites
300g/10oz caster sugar
1 tsp sherry (or red-wine) vinegar
3 tbsps cocoa powder, sifted
150g/5oz hazelnuts, shelled, toasted and chopped
50g/2oz dark chocolate (70pc cocoa solids), grated For the filling 400ml/14fl oz whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, split Sauce 200g/7oz chocolate hazelnut spread
200ml/7fl oz double cream
2 tbsps hazelnut liqueur
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then whisk in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, with the vinegar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Gently fold in the cocoa powder, chopped nuts and grated chocolate.
Spoon 12 heaps of the meringue mixture on to baking parchment on two baking trays.
Place trays in the oven, then immediately turn the oven temperature down to 150°C/ Fan 130°C/Gas Mark 2 and bake the meringues for 45 minutes.
They should be crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle.
For the sauce, gently heat all the ingredients together in a pan, stirring occasionally.
Whip the cream with the icing sugar and scraped seeds of the vanilla pod. Sandwich the meringues together in pairs with whipped cream and serve with the sauce poured over the top.