I watched Ina make this on T.V. and it looks so pretty and good. I have not made this yet, but when I do I'll make sure to post a photo. The meringues are supposed to be soft.
- 2 1⁄2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 cups sliced almonds
- 8 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 extra-large egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 3⁄4 cups scalded milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cognac
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, seeds of (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- FOR THE CARAMEL: Heat 1 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Cook over medium heat until the syrup turns a warm caramel color. Don't stir, just swirl it in the pan.
- Turn off the heat, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla; be careful, the syrup will bubble violently.
- Stir and cook over high heat until the caramel reaches 230 degrees F. (thread stage) on a candy thermometer. Set aside.
- FOR THE PRALINE: Combine the almonds with 1/4 cup of the caramel and spread them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned.
- Allow to cool at room temperature and then break up in pieces.
- Lower the oven to 250°F Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- FOR THE MERINGUES: Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.
- Turn the mixer on high speed and add the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Beat until the egg whites are very stiff and glossy.
- Whisk in the remaining teaspoon of vanilla. With dessert spoons place 12 mounds of meringue on parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- FOR THE CREME ANGLAISE:.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.
- With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs. Pour the custard mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. The custard will coat the spoon like heavy cream. Don't cook it above 180F or the eggs will scramble!
- Pour the sauce through a fine strainer, add the vanilla extract, Cognac, and vanilla seeds, if using, and chill.
- FOR SERVING: Pour creme anglaise on the bottom of individual plates. Place a meringue on top of each serving, drizzle with caramel sauce, sprinkle with praline, and serve.
- To make a day or two ahead, leave the caramel and praline at room temperature and refrigerate the creme anglaise. Bake the meringues before guests arrive and assemble the desserts just before serving.