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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
To make the meringues, heat oven to 110C/90C fan/gas 1/4, put the egg whites in a bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Keep the whisk running and add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next. Whisk until all the sugar has been added and the whites are glossy. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Using a palette knife, spread out the meringue to an even layer, around 5mm thick. Sprinkle over the lime zest and cook for 2-3 hrs or until crisp.
To poach the cherries, put the ale, star anise and sugar in a saucepan, bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then add the cherries and simmer for 3 mins. Turn the heat off, pop on the lid and leave to cool. Once the cherries are cool, strain through a sieve, catching the liquid in the pan. Keep the cherries in the fridge until needed. Put the pan on the heat and reduce the liquid until syrupy.
To make the mousse, put 90g of the chocolate in a large bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water to gently melt. Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside, but keep the pan of water on the heat. Whisk the cream to soft peaks. In a third bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tbsp water. Set the bowl of egg yolks over the pan of simmering water and keep whisking until light, fluffy and thick. Dollop a big spoonful of this into the melted chocolate, whisk to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the rest. Finally, fold through the whipped cream. Set aside at room temperature.
To make the chocolate syrup, whisk all the ingredients together in a pan, bring just to a simmer, then set aside. For the vanilla cream, whisk the cream and vanilla seeds together to soft peaks. Set aside.
Break the meringues into shards. To assemble the desserts, dollop a large spoonful of the chocolate mousse into 6 glasses. Top with a spoonful of vanilla cream, some cherries and a drizzle of the chocolate and cherry syrups. Cover with a layer of meringue shards, then repeat the layers. Top the final layer of meringue with some chocolate mousse and poached cherries. Drizzle over the syrups and grate over the remaining chocolate.