I love the flavour of rooibos in dessert recipes. It adds an earthy smokiness which offsets the sweetness beautifully. Rooibos tea is native to South Africa, and is essentially a herbal tea rich in anti oxidants and naturally caffeine free.
African Extracts Rooibos recently sent me their AdvantAGE range, a beautiful line of anti-ageing skin care products packed full of natural ingredients and Bio-Active Rooibos. With Rooibos yet again on my mind, I thought I’d try a couple of recipes inspired by the wonderful plant. A plant that is both good for your skin and for your body.
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For this recipe I used red espresso, which has a very intense flavour due its fine ground, and then I ground it up even further. You could just take good quality loose-leaf rooibos and grind it in a spice grinder to get the same result. I then sifted this a few times to remove any woody bits and got the ground down to the finest powder I could. Discard the woodier bits as you go.
For the meringue recipe I have used Ottolenghi as my inspiration. I have always wanted to try the hot sugar method where it gets heated to 100C before adding to the egg whites which in turn partially cooks them similarly to an Italian meringue. No vinegar or corn flour is added, and the meringues bake in a very low oven for longer. The result is a crunchier meringue, which is the texture I wanted for these stand-alone sweet treats. When making a Pavlova I want a firm but soft middle.
*cooks notes ~ to make meringue ensure that your bowl and whisk are scrupulously clean and you can do this by wiping them down with a cut lemon and then drying with paper towel. I have never attempted meringue without an electric whisk, and due to the long whisking time, a stand mixer makes it so much easier. A sugar thermometer is a great tool when doing any kind of sugar work, but if you don’t have one you will be able to tell if the sugar is ready when it just starts turning a caramel color and starts melting around the edge.
Meringue – inspired by Ottolenghi
- 300g caster sugar
- 150gm free-range egg whites (about 5 large eggs)
- 2Tbs finely ground Rooibos tea powder
White chocolate and Rooibos ganache
- 200g white chocolate, cut into pieces
- 100ml cream
- 1 tsp Rooibos tea powder
Pre heat the oven to 200C and spread the caster sugar over a large baking tray that has been lined with silicone or baking paper. Roast the sugar for 8 – 10 minutes until it registers 100C on a sugar thermometer (see cooks notes above)
While the sugar is in the oven, using an extremely clean bowl and whisk of an electric mixer, separate the egg whites and weigh them out. 150g worked out to being 5 large egg whites.
Turn the oven down to 100C (open the door if necessary to bring the temperature down)
Just before the sugar is ready, start whisking the egg whites in the machine until they just start turning frothy. You don’t need to take them to soft peak sage as with normal meringue. Remove the hot sugar from the oven, fold the paper to make a funnel, and while the mixer is running slowly add the sugar to the egg whites. Continue whisking for a further 8 minutes until the meringue has cooled and is glossy. The sugar should also be dissolved.
Add one of the tablespoons of rooibos powder to the meringue and briefly mix.
In parts, sprinkle some of the remaining tablespoons of tea over the meringue. This is to create some visual tea powder look. Scoop dollops of the meringue onto a large lined baking tray allowing space between each as they expand during baking. You can make larger meringues – and you will get about 12 for that, or smaller ones. For smaller ones, use two teaspoons to scoop, mould slightly, and scrape off onto the baking sheet.
Bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes until the sides are firm. Remove and allow to cool.
To make the ganache, place the white chocolate, cream and tea into a bowl of a double boiler and heat until totally melted. Take off the heat and mix vigorously until it has a smooth sauce consistency. Allow this to cool and thicken, mixing frequently.
While it is still soft (but no longer dripping) spread a dollop on the bottom of a cooled meringue and sandwich a second meringue onto that. carefully place on a serving dish.
If you are making this in advance store in an airtight container.
*Disclaimer ~ this post is sponsored by African Extracts Rooibos
For more of my rooibos tea recipes: