Sumac meringue

It’s not quite a Mess, nor a pavlova neither. But it is meringue and cream. Which everyone likes, right?

These meringues have a savoury undertone and crunch thanks to hazelnuts that are folded in just before baking. But there’s a ripple of sour sumac too, and then plenty more added at the point the meringues are dressed with cream, raspberries and pomegranate. I think the sumac adds a sherbet-like effect to the pudding, and enjoy continually sprinkling more of it whilst eating.

I suggest dividing the meringue mix into four large, round piles before baking. This way you ensure the right mix of crunchy crust, and chewy middle. Once cooked, prize the meringues in two before piling with cream, fruit and sumac. You probably only need a half per person — though if you’re hungry and have a sweet tooth, I wouldn’t judge you if you took down a whole meringue all by your wee self.

This recipe relates to my latest Spice Series piece for Borough Market — on sumac and saffron. Take a look.

Sumac and hazelnut meringues

Serves 8 (or 4)

For the meringue

  • 160g egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 80g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sumac

To finish

  • 400ml double cream
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons sumac

Weigh your egg whites. You will need double the quantity of sugar to whites to make a classic meringue. Ideally, you’ll also have a stand mixer with which to whisk it all up (or otherwise an extremely tired elbow).

Set your oven to 130C fan and line a baking tray with non stick parchment or a silicon baking mat.

Ensure your mixer’s bowl is spotless. Add the egg whites and use the balloon whisk attachment at a medium setting to whisk until they just reach a ‘stiff peak’. Turn the setting a little faster now, and sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites in a steady stream. Once all in, continue whisking at a high speed for 8-10 minutes. The mix will be glossy, and if you pinch a little between thumb and forefinger, there’ll be no hint of sugary crystal.

Scatter the hazelnuts and tablespoon of sumac over the top of the meringue mix. Use a large metal spoon to carefully but confidently fold the nuts and spice into the meringue — just two or three large swoops of the spoon, so that they ripple through, but don’t knock too much air from you mix. Now spoon the meringue into four large boulders on the baking sheet, with plenty of space between them. It will be helpful to have a second spoon to push the meringue from the one you’re using to scoop from the mixing bowl.

Sprinkled the meringues with a pinch or two of sumac, then place in the centre of the oven and turn down to 100C fan. Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the meringues are firm enough to pick up, but clearly still a little soft and chewy in the middle. Leave on the side to fully cool, then place in an airtight container until required. They’re best on the same day, but still pretty good for three.

To serve, whip the cream until it just starts to leave ribbons (but no stiffer). Prize each meringue into two pieces along a natural fault line. Mix the raspberries through the cream, dollop this between or on the meringue halves, then sprinkle pomegranate seeds, any residual juice, and generous pinches of sumac over the top (at least one teaspoon of sumac per meringue). Leave the spice on the table like a condiment, so people can add more as they eat.