The most luxurious hot chocolate, topped with a darling floating meringue ~iceberg~. Find the full recipe at the bottom of this post and even more sweet treat ideas here.
Here's what you'll need to make the hot chocolates and icebergs:
Firstly, make your meringue icebergs.
(This is basically whipping sugar and egg whites to stiff peaks, nothing too scary.) For how to do that, skip to the bottom of this post.
When it comes to meringues, here's what you need to know:
1. Use a 2:1 ratio of sugar and egg whites.
2. Pre-heat the sugar before adding to the egg whites, to create a glossy, stable mixture.
3: Make sure to crush any sugary lumps with your spoon before you add the sugar to the egg whites; any big lumps will deflate your mixture.
4. Be careful when adding flavouring to your meringues; an excess of oily nuts or liquid will deflate the mixture.
Your egg whites form stiff peaks when they pass "the bowl test".
Pipe, and put your icebergs in the oven at 100°C.
Now for the hot chocolate. Chop up your chosen chocolate, and put the milk and cream in a saucepan to simmer.
Stack the chocolate in the bottom of your mug.
And pour the warmed milk and cream mixture over it, stirring until the chocolate has melted.
Top with an iceberg, and enjoy!
For the meringue iceberg
1 batch of Meringue Girls mixture (300g caster sugar
150g egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
1 vanilla pod
For the hot chocolate
175ml double cream
225g milk or dark chocolate, broken into squares
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Line a small baking tray with baking paper, pour in the caster sugar, and heat it in the oven for 7 minutes. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture. Pour the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk them slowly, allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks
Time the sugar and the egg whites so that the sugar is hot, and the egg whites are stiff, AT THE SAME TIME.
Take the sugar out the oven and turn the heat down to 100°C. With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the stiffly beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar. Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff, and glossy mixture. You should continue to whisk for at least 5 minutes once all the sugar has been incorporated. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers; if you can still feel the gritty sugar, keeping whisking at full speed until it has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff, and glossy.
Split your vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds, then gently fold them through the stiff meringue mixture.
Preheat the oven to 100°C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper. Draw circles on your baking paper, a third smaller than the rim of your coffee cups. You want the final iceberg to float on the hot chocolate and fill the whole cup, and the meringue will expand during baking, so you need to allow for growth.
Spoon the meringue into a disposable piping bag and cut a hole the size of a 5p coin in the tip of the bag. Pipe your icebergs on to the baking paper within the drawn circles – for each start with a big dome shape, then build up the iceberg with spikes.
Bake for 2 hours, until they are set and lift off the baking paper cleanly. Store in a biscuit tin for up to two weeks, or until you are ready to set sail on your daydream.
To make the hot chocolate:
Put the milk and cream into a small heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat. Add the chocolate squares to your mugs, pour over the hot milk and cream and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Top with your big white icebergs, and serve...but don't let go!
Everything Sweet by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman is available now.
Your egg whites will pass "the bowl test" when they are at stiff peaks. A previous version of this piece mentioned "the bowl test" in reference to the meringue mixture.