From Jenn Louis, chef at Portland's Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern restaurants, these nut meringues topped with marmalade-like conserva and crème fraîche are irresistible (the dessert's Italian name, brutti ma buoni, means "ugly but good"). For crisp meringues, bake them on a dry day.
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups roasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off; coarsely chop 1 cup
Preheat oven to 300°. Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Beat in sugar, adding 1 tbsp. every 20 to 30 seconds, until meringue holds firm peaks when beaters are lifted. Beat in 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract and the cinnamon. Fold in all the nuts. Scoop meringue into 6 mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake meringues 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 200° and bake until meringues are firm and crisp, 1 1/4 hours more. Turn off oven; let meringues sit at least 1 hour or overnight.
Beat cream with remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract in a bowl until thick. Fold in crème fraîche and spoon into 6 shallow bowls. Set a meringue on each and spoon conserva on top.
Make ahead: For meringues, up to 5 days, stored airtight at room temperature.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving with 1/3 cup conserva.
I made this last night for my family and they had seconds! I modified this by mixing the whipping cream with fat free fromage blanc and a little sugar, and I made a strawberry puree with a little jam for sweetness that I put it on the bottom of the plate so it wouldn't be so white. I made the meringues heart-shaped since this was for Valentine's day.
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