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Pear and hazelnut mess with chocolate shavings

Everything can be made the day in advance but make sure you put everything together on the day

16 APRIL 2010

For the meringues

  • 3 egg whites
  • 60g sugar
  • 50g toasted hazelnuts, crushed

For the pears
  • 3 pears
  • 1 litre water
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50ml muscatel

The rest

  • 250ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 100g chocolate, shaved or melted, cooled and folded through the cream
  • 50g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method

Whip the egg whites until soft peak stage and add the sugar while continuing to whisk. Fold through the crushed hazelnuts. Dollop spoonfuls of the meringue onto a lined baking sheet – about 6 – 8 meringues – and make sure you leave a bit of space around each one. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 100°C for one hour. Set aside to cool.

For the pears, heat all the ingredients except the fruit together until the sugar is dissolved. Peel, core and half the pears and add to the liquid. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for half an hour or until the pears and tender when you pierce them with a knife. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut each half into four strips.

Crumble the meringues and fold through the cream. Gently stir the pears through and then the chocolate. Serve in a big bowl with plenty of spoons, scattering the hazelnuts on top.

(You can reduce the pear cooking liquor right down to a quarter of its original volume and use as a base for cocktails).

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