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 crème brulee – a 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.’