Going to Boucher reminded me of all the hot spots in Queensland we're yet to hit, and when my husband found this list of 50 meals you should have eaten if you live in Brisbane, I knew we had to make this a more frequent expedition. It can rack up a bit of a bill though if you're out fine dining every weekend though so we keep an eye out for great food coupon deals where you can get the gourmet experiences for less. That always makes the experience more enjoyable. Fine dining for less. Bring it on.
But if you're stuck at home as I am this weekend, and you can't make it out to any nice restaurants, you might like to try making this Mint Vacherin at home for dessert. It's a show stopper and makes you look like a pro in front of your friends, but it's simple and elegant and easy (it's french, once again!)
So what's it like to sink your teeth into it? There are three layers of chocolate speckled meringue, wedged with a filling of whipped, mint infused cream and the richness of dark chocolate, topped with mint leaves and lashings of more of that dark chocolatey goodness and cream.
CHOC MINT VACHERIN (adapted from Today's Nest)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
1 tsp corn flour (or corn starch)
45g dark chocolate, finely grated
140g dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups thickened cream (or heavy cream)
1 tbsp. mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
Extra chocolate to grate or drizzle
fresh mint leaves to decorate
Preheat the oven to 135C.
Take a pencil and one sheet of baking paper and place draw out three identical rectangles approximately 4 inches wide by 10 inches long. Place this paper into the baking sheet. Set aside.
To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl. When you have achieved soft peaks, gradually add 1/2 a cup of the sugar. Whip into stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in the remaining sugar, the corn flour and the grated chocolate shavings until only just incorporated. (Over folding will deflate your egg whites.)
Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tipped nozzle. Pipe horizontal lines of the mixture across each drawn rectangle on the baking tray, making sure that each line of meringue mixture touches the next slightly. (This ensures the meringue rectangle is one solid piece once cooked.) Bake for 45 minutes, then rotate the tray. Continue to bake for a further 45 minutes.
Turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool in the oven.
When cooled, remove the tray and gently take the three rectangles off the baking sheet. You may need an egg flip to assist you.
To make the filling, carefully melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl in the microwave, stopping at 20 second intervals to stir until smooth. While the chocolate is still warm, spread it on to two of the meringue rectangles. Set aside.
With a mortar and pestle, muddle the mint with the sugar. Add this to the cream in a medium sized bowl, and whip into soft peaks.
Place one of the chocolate covered meringues onto your serving dish. Pipe one third of the cream over the chocolate. Add the other chocolate coated meringue on top of this cream, and repeat with another third of the cream. Top this with the final layer of meringue, and pipe the remaining cream down the centre. Decorate with the extra chocolate and remaining mint leaves.
NOTES: heat a very sharp knife under hot water before cutting, using a sawing motion. This helps to cut through the hardened chocolate layers without breaking and ruining the look of the delicate dessert.