The arrival of new year is a time for celebration, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect. I love the pause that this time of year brings, allowing me to look back on the year that has been, and to give thanks for the many blessings in my life. As a person who loves moving towards new experiences and creative projects, this time of year feels like a starting block, steadying me and giving me pause to refocus before I set off again in the direction of my inspiration.
In amongst all of that, all the reflecting and moving toward, is the awareness that the most important thing any of us can do for our health and happiness is to ground ourselves more firmly in the present moment. When we are focussed in the moment, we are able to truly see, listen, feel and experience each moment, rather than being half there, in a distracted kind of way. And, so importantly, we are more fully able to connect with those around us.
When we bring this mindfulness to our experience of food, it becomes so much easier to nourish ourselves with a food life that is both delicious and healthy. A vibrant salad made from just harvested produce, bursts with freshness and life and is a feel-good experience from paddock to palate. A small serving of an indulgent dessert, mindfully savoured to the last mouthful, is intensely satisfying. Less becomes so much more.
As this time of year also brings luscious, sun-kissed stone fruit to the Adelaide Hills, here is a gorgeous cherry dessert to for you to enjoy. Mindfully, of course.
Cherry Hazelnut Meringue Torte
150 g ground hazelnuts
3 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa
5 egg whites
200 g caster sugar
300 ml cream
750 g fresh cherries
Icing sugar, to dust
To make the meringue layers, preheat the oven to 180°. Line some baking trays with baking paper and trace 3 x 20 cm circles on the paper.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the hazelnuts, cornflour, cocoa and a 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add remaining the sugar, a little at a time, until it is all combined and you have a smooth, glossy meringue.
Gently fold through the hazelnut mixture, then divide the mixture between the 3 circles. Smooth the tops with a spatula to create an even surface.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meringues have begun to brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on the trays.
While the meringues are baking, pit most of the cherries (these are great for this job), leaving a few whole for decoration. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
To assemble the torte, cover the base meringue with half the cream and top with half of the pitted cherries. Repeat with the next meringue, cream and cherries, and top with the final meringue. Dust with icing sugar and top with whole cherries.