I am a walker, like my mother. We walk places, whether at home or abroad. We like to watch people and we like to do so while setting one foot in front of the other. So I never thought anything of walking 30 minutes to law school and back again every day. And London is a formidable city for that – leaving aside all the rain there is so much to see (and usually there is so much traffic that while my walking speed (of which I am rather proud of) might not allow me to beat taking the bus or tube just yet (and sadly, most likely never will), at least walking doesn’t usually take me much longer than either for getting around most of Central London).
During my final two years at uni, I lived in an old and drafty but somehow cosy apartment in Gray’s Inn Road with my friend Laura and another friend from our year. Laura and I would often do the 20 minute or so walk to uni down by the Aldwych together, sometimes waiting for her boyfriend outside the Pret a Manger at the corner of Gray’s Inn Road and Theobald’s Road before proceeding further down Gray’s Inn Road. We would often walk past Konditor & Cook, one of my favourite pastry shops in London – not least for their authentic Vanille Kipferl. Like any pastry shop worthy of its name, their window was always chock-full of all their delectable cakes, including an impressive pile of gigantic meringues – larger than a large mango. And one day, Laura bought me one of these gigantic meringues. And I still remember how giddily happy I was eating it.
I am a messy eater at the best of times and it is basically impossible to not make a complete mess eating a meringue so you can imagine what I looked like when I was done. But I did not care, the meringue was delicious – sweet and crunchy with a bit of chew in the centre and so huge I could enjoy bite after bite before getting to the last piece. While I am still trying to perfect a baked meringue recipe using the flax seed goo I have been writing about recently (trickier than I thought to even get the whipped vegan meringue to the right consistency) I thought I would give myself a break and make classic egg white meringues instead. Sarah Kieffer posted some beautiful looking raspberry and cacao nib sugar buns a while back and I haven’t been able to get these out of my head, so that is where this flavour combination comes from. While I am sure these sugar buns taste delicious, raspberry and cacao nib is definitely a great pairing for the meringue as well as both the bitterness of the cacao nibs and the acidity from the raspberry cut through some of the sweetness of the meringue.
Cacao Nib and Raspberry Meringues
Makes ca. 10 bite-sized meringues
2 egg whites
20g freeze-dried raspberries
20g cacao nibs
1. Pre-heat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the egg whites into a large bowl, making sure your bowl is spotlessly clean (if in doubt, wipe the bowl with the cut side of half a lemon). Whip the egg whites with an electric whisk on medium speed until small bubbles start to form. Slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to whisk on medium speed. Once all the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture no longer feels gritty when rubbed between two fingers, increase the speed to high and continue whipping until the meringue is firm and glossy (ca. 5 minutes from when you added the sugar).
3. Fold in the freeze-dried raspberries and cacao nibs.
4. Drop tablespoon-sized blobs of meringue on the baking tray and place in the oven for 50 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven, keeping the door ajar. Store in an airtight box.