chocolatey candied walnut swiss meringue • sweet memories

I’ve heard it being said before–that tattoos, whether you have an abundance of them or not, can represent specific moments in your lifetime. Ink patterns that resemble a break-up, a move, a heartbreak, a spiritual awakening, an epiphany, a bond, a friendship, a plan, a moment of inspiration (or lack there of), regret, love…

I believe those have all been causes of getting inked and have heard from several people who have tattoos, that looking at each specific one will awaken the feelings they were going through when they got it.

But I wouldn’t know. I don’t have any tattoos.

But I can say that I may have a similar reaction when looking at dessert pictures that I have made. Each specific dessert reminds me of what was going on when each recipe was prepared. I vividly relive that moment, whether good or bad, and go back in time.

Poached pears reminds me walking through my neighborhood during the coming of fall last year and driving to Philly to see Periphery and Dream Theater. Spiced tea and lemon bread brings back memories of baking with my friend during a crisp January day. Chocolate almond tart reminds me of baking and waiting for my bebe to visit me for one day mid tour. Almond crepes with peaches reminds me of my fake attempt to be happy when in reality sadness was uncontrollably taking over.

But here we are today with yet another new dessert. This dessert, which I’m not even sure how to name. This swiss meringue with candied walnuts and ganache which if I predict correctly, will one day remind my of cooking in my new apartment for the very first much more room, so much more light and counter space. It will also remind me of Mark coming back from tour early and pulling these out of the fridge and having dessert with him for the first time in our new apartment.

And there you go. It’s so simple that each sweet creation, just like a song, a movie, or a tattoo, can have the power to transport you to another lived place and time. What a miraculous gift.

**Yield: 3-4, depending how full you decide to fill each serving cup. Keeps 2-3 days in refrigerator**

Ingredients for Candied Walnuts:

1 C walnuts

5 oz sugar

pinch of sea salt

Recipe/Procedure for Candied Walnuts:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread walnuts out on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for approximately 5 minutes. Test for doneness. If not quite toasted enough, toast for 1 or 2 more minutes until they are done. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Pour sugar into a medium saucepan. Be sure to have walnuts nearby, ready to quickly add them to the pan at the right time. Cook sugar on low-medium heat, smooshing it with a heatproof silicon spatula. Keep smooshing it until all the sugar has melted and it turns medium amber.

3. Add the walnuts to the pan as soon as the sugar has a turned medium amber in color, quickly stirring and coating each piece with the sugar.

4. Spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet that is lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Separate the walnuts very quickly from each other by using two forks.

5. Sprinkle walnuts with sea salt. Let cool completely. Be sure to save at least 4 halved walnuts for later.

6. Place candied walnuts in a food processor and pulse until walnuts are finely chopped. Set aside for later use.

Ingredients for Ganache:

6 oz heavy cream

6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Recipe/Procedure for Ganache:

1. Heat heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

2. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour simmered heavy cream over chocolate. Allow cream and chocolate to rest for about a minute so that chocolate softens and melts.

3. Stir/whisk mixture gently from the center and whisking outwards until everything is well emulsified.

4. Set chocolate-heavy cream mixture aside and allow it to cool completely at room temperature.

Ingredients for Swiss Meringue:

4 oz egg whites

6 oz sugar

Recipe/Procedure for Swiss Meringue:

1. Fill a pot about one quarter to one half of the way up with water and bring it to a boil.

2. Mix eggwhites and sugar in a mixer bowl over hot water.

3. Bring eggwhite/sugar mixture to 140 F – 165 F, whisking regularly. (Sugar should be completely dissolved and mixture should feel hot and slimy/sticky).

4. Remove from heat and whip in a mixer until stiff peaks form.

Putting it all together….

1. Gently fold finely chopped candied walnuts into the swiss meringue.

2. Scoop or pipe swiss meringue 3/4 of the way into a serving cup. Smoothen the surface of the meringue with a spoon, so that it resembles a flat top.

3. Pour ganache over meringue so that meringue is completely covered and sealed by the ganache.

4. Place dessert in fridge until ganache sets up and becomes firmer. At that time, place a saved candied walnut half in center.


Note: I tried different ways of assembling each cup. One method is the way I explained above. Another option is to do layers of swiss meringue and ganache. So you would:

1. Fill cup 1/4 of the way with swiss meringue and spread it so that surface is flat and smooth. 2. Pour ganache over swiss meringue until it’s covered. Refrigerate until ganache sets up a bit. 3. Scoop more swiss meringue over ganache and spread it so that the surface is smooth. 4. Pour a thin layer of ganache over swiss meringue so that meringue is completely covered and sealed by the ganache. 5. Place dessert in fridge until top layer of ganache sets up and becomes firmer. Place a candied walnut half in the center over the ganache.


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