Woodland Meringues

November 20, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Makes about 70
Author Notes

Helen was inspired to create these after a walk around Kew Gardens with her young sons. It was autumn and the ground was covered in conkers (horse chestnuts). Delighting in her boys delight at the little fallen treats, Helen then had to be the one to inform them that, no, eating conkers was really not such a good idea. Their look of collective bafflement was so great that Helen’s imagination set out to create something that both looks like it has fallen from a tree and, crucially, is eminently edible. These woodland meringues are the result.

We’ve included two versions here—dark chocolate with hazelnuts and white chocolate with freeze-dried strawberries. You can make one or the other or a combination of both—if you're doing a combination of both dark and white chocolate, halve the quantities listed below. We sell them in the shops in little see-through bags, for people to take home or to buy as a gift. They’re a lovely bite-sized way to end a meal or party.

When melted and used as a coating, dark chocolate can develop white streaks after a day or so. This won’t affect the taste but can be avoided by tempering the chocolate. Tempering the chocolate is optional here, however, as the chocolate is covered by the chopped hazelnuts so any white streaks won’t really be seen.

These will keep for up to 10 days, stored in an airtight container. —Helen

What You'll Need
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Woodland Meringues
  • Meringue
  • 4 1/2 ounces (125 g) egg whites (from 3 large eggs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup plus 3 tbsp (240 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dark Chocolate Coating and White Chocolate Coating (halve the quantities if you are doing a mix of dark and white chocolate)
  • Dark Chocolate Coating
  • 1 1/3 cups (200 g) hazelnuts
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into 3/4-inch/2-cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces (40 g) milk chocolate, chopped into 3/4-inch/2-cm pieces
  • White Chocolate Coating
  • 5 ounces (140 g) white chocolate, chopped into 3/4-inch/2-cm pieces
  • 2 ounces (55 g) freeze-dried strawberries, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. If making the dark chocolate coating, spread the hazelnuts out on a small rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel, draw in the sides and then rub together to remove some of the skins. Chop the nuts very finely—it’s better to do this by hand, rather than in a food processor, where the nuts will become dusty—then set aside in a bowl.
  2. To make the meringue, lower the oven temperature to 275°F/140°C.
  3. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until they appear foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until they are stiff but not dry or crumbly, about 30 seconds. Place the sugar in a bowl, add the cornstarch and baking powder (adding both ensures a completely dry and crisp meringue), and gradually—a tablespoon at a time—add the sugar to the egg whites. Continue to beat for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then spoon into a piping bag with a 2/3-inch/1.5-cm tip in place.
  4. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (sticking each piece of parchment firmly to the baking sheet with a bit of the meringue mix). Pipe small droplets—or kisses—onto each lined baking sheet; the base of each droplet should be about 1 inch/3 cm wide. Raise the piping bag as you pipe, so that they are about 2 inches/5 cm high and you create a fine tip at the top. Once all the meringues have been piped, place both baking sheets in the oven at once. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 250°F/120°C—you want it to be slightly hotter when they go in, to give the meringues a crunch—and bake for 2 1⁄2 hours. The meringues are done when they look dry and sound hollow when tapped gently underneath. Turn off the oven but leave the meringues inside until they are cool, propping the door open with a wooden spoon.
  5. To make the dark chocolate coating, place the dark and milk chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. One at a time, dip the base of the meringues into the melted chocolate, followed by the chopped hazelnuts, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set.
  6. To make the white chocolate coating, follow the instructions for the dark chocolate topping, dipping the base into the dried strawberries instead.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Trishington
  • Mona Preeti
    Mona Preeti
  • Natasa
  • Msimpaz
  • Nicole
Co-author of Yotam Ottolenghi's newest cookbook, Sweet (Fall 2017 by Ten Speed Press).

10 Reviews

Trishington June 13, 2020
I’ve made these a few times now and each time they get easier to pipe and look more and more like Helen’s. Yay! However no matter what they look like, they’re always crowd pleasers because they’re soooo yummy and I love how easy they are to make. I’m typically too pressed for time to fuss with hazelnuts so I usually use chopped pecans instead. Pro tip: always weigh your egg whites. I weighed my three large whites and they were nowhere near 125g! Even adding a 4th white barely added up. Go figure. ;)
Mona P. December 28, 2017
My meringues had just the faintest tinge so they didn't look as snowy white as the ones in the picture. Any suggestions on how to get that true white color?
Helen December 29, 2017
Hi Mona, reduce the preheated oven temperature from 350F to 325F at the outset, then again from 250F to 225F when the meringues go into the oven. Keep the same baking time and the meringues should come out white.
Mona P. December 29, 2017
Okay thanks!
Natasa December 27, 2017
Can you replace the cream of tartar with something? Almost impossible to find in Sweden...
Helen December 29, 2017
Hi Natasa, the cream of tartar is an acid which helps to stabilise the egg whites as they are being whisked. Replace it with 1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar. Or you could also leave it out altogether, and just proceed on medium -low speed, making sure the whites are at soft peaks before adding the sugar very gradually, one tablespoon at a time.
Msimpaz December 23, 2017
How do you keep them from cracking?
Helen December 29, 2017
Hello, cracking suggests that the oven temperature is too hot. Reduce the temperature from 350F to 325F when preheating the oven, then again from 250F to 225F once the meringues go in (but keep the same baking time). Also, to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved, add the sugar very gradually, and keep whisking until you can barely feel the sugar granules when you rub a bit of meringue between your thumb and fingers.
Nicole November 28, 2017
is there a typo in the instructions for step 5? it says to make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, is it supposed to say “not touching the pan”?
creamtea November 30, 2017
Nicole, no this is a standard instruction. There only needs to be a small amount of water in the lower pan. There should be some space between the two vessels to avoid scorching. I usually turn of the heat once the chocolate starts to melt and let the residual heat continue to melt the chocolate.