1 To make the biscuit bases, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla bean paste, and then stir in the flour and cocoa powder until just combined. Add the orange zest. Divide the mixture in half, shape each into a ball, wrap both in clingfilm, then chill for at least half an hour until the dough has firmed up.
2 Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4, and grease and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Dust a work surface with icing sugar and roll out 1 ball of dough to 5mm thick. Cut out 10 rounds using a 5cm cutter (re-roll and cut any trimmings), then transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to make a total of 20 biscuits bases then bake for 10 minutes until cooked through. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3 To make the cardamom orange meringue filling, place the cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites, and 1 tablespoon of water in a heatproof bowl. Beat with an electric whisk for about 1 minute until frothy. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water set over the lowest heat possible, and continue to beat at high speed for 10–12 minutes, until you have formed stiff peaks. Remove from the heat, add the ground cardamom and beat for 2 more minutes, until the meringue has thickened even more.
4 Fill a disposable piping bag, and cut a 20p-sized hole in the tip. Pipe onto the biscuits bases holding the piping bag upright, then pull up to finish. Place the biscuits on a tray and leave to set in the fridge while you make the chocolate and pistachio topping.
5 Place the chocolate and oil in a small heatproof bowl and gently melt over a pan of simmering water until completely smooth and glossy. Mix through the orange extract. Transfer to a small deep bowl and leave to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
6 To finish the teacakes, hold the chilled biscuits by the base and gently dip the meringue into the melted chocolate, swirling so it’s completely covered. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Chill the biscuits for a few hours until the chocolate has completely set, and serve.
If ground cardamom is unavailable, finely grind the seeds from 8 whole pods in a pestle and mortar.
Egg warning: because this dish contains uncooked eggs, it is not suitable for very young children, pregnant women, elderly people and anyone whose immune system is weak.
Recipe courtesy of the Meringue Girls