Meringue pear crumble

Pipe Italian meringue over this autumn fruit crumble for an unusual texture combination
By Mark Sargeant
Meringue pear crumble
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2-4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

For the crumble

  • 110 g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 110 g demerara sugar
  • 100 g roasted shelled hazelnuts
  • 180 g plain flour

For the filling

  • 5 pears, peeled
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 whole star anise

For the meringue

  • 180 g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only

Method

1. For the crumble: preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease an ovenproof gratin dish with butter.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and the sugar using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the hazelnuts.

3. Add the flour and mix until well combined. Scatter the mixture on a baking tray and bake until crisp and golden-brown.

4. For the filling: chop the pears and place in a saucepan with the sugar, star anise and enough water to just cover. Cook until just soft, but still with bite.

5. Spoon the pears in an even layer on the greased dish. Sprinkle over the crumble mixture, bake for ten minutes and set aside.

6. For the meringue: put the sugar and 40ml water in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Brush the crystals on the sides of the pan with a clean brush dipped in cold water. Put a sugar thermometer in the pan.

7. Keeping an eye on the temperature of the sugar - you will need to add it to the whisked eggs once it reaches 120C - put the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice and whisk using an electric beater until firm peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the vanilla seeds when the whites are nearly stiff.

8. Remove the sugar from the heat when it reaches 120C. With the beater at its lowest speed, pour in the melted sugar, in a steady stream, making sure it is clear of the beaters. Continue beating for about 5 minutes until the meringue is tepid.

9. Pipe the meringue over the crumble and finish by browning the meringue with a mini-blow torch or under a hot grill.

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