I am inordinately proud of this, and am not ashamed to say so. I have long been a pava-holic but this is my first venture into a fruit-free (though far from fruitless) version. The instant espresso powder (do not use instant coffee granules) gives bitter oomph to the sweet, marshmallowy meringue, which I make with Two Chicks’ free-range egg whites. I saw Monica use these on MasterChef: The Professionals, and if they’re good enough for her, they’re good enough for me!
- 250g caster sugar
- 4 tsps instant espresso powder, not instant coffee
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsps cornflour
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a flat oven sheet with baking parchment and, using a 23cm cake tin, draw a circle on it.
Step 2: Mix the sugar with the instant espresso powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 3: In a clean, grease-free metal bowl whisk the egg whites and salt until they are holding soft peaks (see image 2). Keep whisking while you add the sugar-coffee mixture a tablespoon at a time.
Step 4: When you have a firm, ecru-coloured meringue, fold in the cornflour and vinegar using a grease-free metal spoon.
Step 5: Dollop the meringue mixture inside the drawn circle. Smooth and shape it with a spatula so that it looks rather like the crown of a boater: it must be flat on top.
Step 6: Put it in the oven and immediately turn down to 150°C/gas mark 3 and cook for an hour. Switch off the oven and leave inside until cool.
Step 7: Once the base is cool, lift it carefully in its paper and place it top-side down on a flat plate and peel off the paper (see image 3).
Step 8: Whip the double cream until thick but soft and spread delicately over the top of the meringue (see image 4). With a teaspoon, push the cocoa through a fine sieve or tea strainer to decorate the top, cappuccino-style.