Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Meringue

Now that we have more eggs than we know what to do with we can afford to start getting a little more adventurous when it comes to all matters ova.

Of course, a still warm egg brought in from a frost kissed garden is at its best cracked into a pan sizzling with a shiver of hot oil or poached in gently boiling water but there is so much more that can be done with them.

Dessert features rarely on the menu, especially midweek when we tend to crash out with a bowlful of something tasty and gorge on one of many US television series. More often than not a handful of dried fruit is enough to dispel any sugar hankerings that might follow a meal.

But last week we had some friends over for dinner and felt that offering a plate of dates or prunes might not go down too well. So while I was busy faffing over the main course (venison with port and lingonberry sauce) my girlfriend set to making a cr̬me brulee Рa recipe that we were both familiar with but neither of us had cooked.

It was a real success (despite the lack of a blowtorch) and the egg yolks gave it a gorgeous richness, both in flavour and colour. But as with any custard based dessert we were left with three surplus egg whites. Needless to say, they didn’t stay surplus for very long.

Feeling little desire for an egg white omelette (why? Why? Why?), I got busy with the whisk trying to create a voluptuous cloud of voluminous egg whites to which I could add a significant amount of sugar. After a mere three minutes I was sweating and my wrist aching thanks to the overly enthusiastic whisking method I had foolishly chosen.

Time to dust off the Kenwood. It made short work of the egg whites and within only a couple of minutes they’d reached the desired consistency. In went the sugar, a mere dribble of vanilla extract and the slightest drop of vinegar (I think I remember reading something about vinegar helping to set meringues).
After spooning them onto a tray they went into a low oven for about an hour. Time up and the oven was turned off and the little nuggets of sweetness were left to cool. Hot sugar really hurts.

Once cool, I left half as they were and dusted the remainder with a little finely ground cinnamon to add a slightly warm note. They were exactly as meringues should be – a bursting, crunchy exterior shell, that exploded as you bit into it, housing a tooth-achingly sweet and sticky inside that clung tenaciously to my molars. Simple, sweet and ever-so-slightly sinful.



P.S. Couldn’t possibly post without including this little joke (which should be read in a Scottish accent)

A man walks into a baker’s shop, points to the counter and says:
‘Is that a cake or a meringue?’
To which the baker replies:
‘Ai, you’re quite right, it’s a cake.’

8 comments:

Foodycat said...

I like the joke!

And your meringues are beautiful. I have been stockpiling eggwhites in the freezer for weeks to make friands, and now I have been diverted.

Samantha Dixon said...

Lol. I like your writing style. Incidentally how would one quantify a "low oven" please?

lisaiscooking said...

Gorgeous meringue! I've never made a creme brulee, but it's on my list (which gets longer every day).

Heather said...

Gor. Juss.

Hey, you can make your own mayonnaise with all those eggs. Best shrimp rolls you'll ever have are dressed in fresh mayo.

Hopie said...

Ooh, I've tried to the hand-whipped method for meringues before I had any useful kitchen gadgets. My arms did NOT thank me for that!

I use a pinch of cream of tartar to set the meringues...do you have that in England? They don't have it here in France. They just use a pinch of salt...

Foodycat said...

In Australia we always use cream of tartar for meringue too (especially for pavlova). I haven't looked for it here, hopie!

A World in a PAN said...

I love meringue! Your are beautiful.
You can find my recipe in my website (type meringue). I do not do so often now becasue it has so much sugar ..

Alex Rushmer said...

Foodycat - I'll have to look into making friands, they sound interesting

Samantha - thank you, very kind of you to say so. A 'low oven' would be about 120 degrees so that the meringues dry out instead of cook.

lisa - you should give it a go, worth the effort, that's for sure.

Heather - Damn right I'll be making mayo. Thanks!

Hopie - I think I've heard that too. I'll give it a go next time and see how things turn out

World in a pan - they can be a little heavy on the sugar, that's for sure. Definitely an occasional treat.