Easter baking is like Christmas baking in our house: I make a list of all the recipes I want to try and make and then start by prioritising what will get made according to available time, my budget and what I think the kids will enjoy most.
Easter nests make an appearance in some variation every year, but as I have been wanting to make meringues with the kids for a while and my dislike of cream prevents me from wanting to make a traditional pavlova, I decided that we would attempt a big chocolate meringue nest which could be decorated with chocolate-coated shredded wheat and a copious amount mini eggs.
I enjoy making meringues and chocolate meringues are even better, but that said mine do always end up cracked – this is generally because like an excited child I seem to lack the capacity to wait until the oven has completely cooled before opening it. That said, a crack here and there doesn’t alter the taste. It just gives it more of a rustic look, a homemade ‘we had a go and made some memories’ look which you can’t get from any shop bought pudding.
I made the meringue with Atticus. He had so much fun not having to share the electric mixer with his older brother! It also provided opportunities to discuss with him what was happening as the egg whites were whisked without Seb answering the question first. It was fabulous to hear him try using the word ‘frothy’ and exclaim in delight as the egg whites expanded in size during whisking. Cooking is definitely a huge support for language as well as maths skills for little mischief makers. It was also lots of fun to dollop the meringue mixture onto the baking parchment and trying to make sure it stayed inside the circle we had drawn around a plate to mark out where it should be.
All the children, yes even Ophelia, helped to make the chocolate shredded wheat to put on top of the meringue. I am not at liberty to divulge how much chocolate (either melted or otherwise) was consumed during this process, but fun was had with very little bickering and my children all remained friends. The latter is of course of the utmost importance and I can happily report that I also managed to complete this activity with adequate levels of patience.
In order to make the big chocolate meringue you will need the following:
- 4 egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- 2tsp cocoa powder
- 1tsp cornflour
- 1tsp white wine vinegar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 130°c fan.
- Draw around a plate on baking parchment.
- Separate the eggs (I did this for Atticus as we don’t have an egg separator).
- Whisk the eggs until they form stiff peaks, sift in the 2tsp of cocoa powder and mix and then whisk in the sugar one tbsp at a time until the mixture is glossy.
- Whisk in the cornflour, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract.
- Dollop the meringue onto the baking parchment being careful to ensure that it stays inside the circle. Make the outside of the circle taller than the centre.
- Cook in the oven for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven until it is completely cool. If you are like me it will be a struggle to resist the temptation to open the oven door when the oven is still hot. But please fight against this urge as you are more likely to be rewarded with an intact meringue which has less of a rustic appearance!
For the topping
- 300g milk chocolate
- 30g margarine
- 2tbsp golden syrup
- 5 or 6 shredded wheat
- Mini eggs
- Melt the chocolate, margarine and golden syrup on the stove top. The boys did have a go at this under supervision.
- Crush the shredded wheat, we tend to do this while they are in the packet as it is less messy. Add the crushed shredded wheat to the melted chocolate mixture (you may not need all 6 shredded wheat). Mix very well.
- Carefully place the chocolate-coated shredded wheat on top of the cooled meringue and then add as many mini eggs as you would like.
This pudding was pretty much entirely decimated in a single sitting by my family of five and my sister-in-law and her family of four. The boys had lots of fun telling their cousins how they made it.