Fruit and cream make for delicious deserts and adding meringue introduces a wonderful crunchy texture. I use a light golden brown sugar in this recipe which results in turning the meringue a lovely toffee colour.
Preheat the oven to 200oC/Gas Mark 7 and roast the hazelnuts in a hot oven until browned.
Wrap the hazelnuts in a tea towel and rub to remove as much of the skin as possible. Place the cooled hazelnuts in a small plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin to crush them.
Reduce the oven heat to 150oC/Gas Mark 3 for the meringue.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until beginning to stiffen up. Add in the brown sugar about a tablespoon at a time, continuing to mix until all is added.
Use a metal spoon to spread a circular base of meringue about the size of a small dinner plate and 1cm in height onto the parchment paper. Then spoon large dollops of the meringue mixture next to each other around the edge of the base to form the meringue shell wall. Use a skewer to make a swirl in each round blob and lift it up slightly. (This give the blobs nicely tipped peaks.)
Put the meringue into the oven and turn the heat down low to 130oC/Gas Mark 2 and leave for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue base inside until cold.
Remove the meringue base from the oven and peel off the parchment paper.
Fill the meringue before serving. Blitz a small handful of the strawberries in a food processor or mini-chopper, with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar to make a puree.
Whisk the cream with an electric mixer until stiffening and then stir in the fromage frais and the other tablespoon of icing sugar.
Slice the remaining strawberries. Spoon a layer of the cream mix into the meringue base and top with half of the strawberries. Spoon the remaining cream on top, then decorate with the strawberries, crushed hazelnut and puree.