Meringues

2011 should be declared the year of improbable goals. I was going to say impossible, but as I’m actually working toward them, I suppose that only makes them improbable. Along with my reading goal of finishing the 53 remaining books on the BBC 100 books to read list (make that 52, now that I’ve completed one) I’ve given myself two culinary goals: Perfect the Art of Pie Baking and Make 25 New Recipes.

Alas, the pie baking cannot start until next month, but I have made two new recipes in the month of January. The first was a flaugnarde I found at my favorite food blog, Nourished Kitchen. It was a tasty, soupy mess, which I credit to not having the right kind of strainer. For the record, pasta pot does not a wired mesh strainer make. Lesson learned.

Last night, in a fit of domesticity I’m certain was inspired by Louisa May Alcott & her Little Women, I decided to attempt one of my husband’s favorite goodies – meringues. No, they don’t fit our normal eating habits – but egg whites and a little sugar in moderation won’t kill anyone. I was delightfully surprised – having heard my fair share of horror stories – you know: collapsing, catching on fire, refusing to whip. Aside from needing a bit of patience, not terribly difficult! I think mine are a little too chewy and not crispy enough, but I was happy for a trial run.

Here’s the method, straight from my favorite baking book, King Arthur’s Flour. It makes 36 petite puffy white clouds of sugary goodness.

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a sturdy electric mixer (a stand mixer if you have one), beat together egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks being forming. This probably took me a good 10 minutes and maybe longer.

Add sugar gradually, beating continuously.  Mixture will eventually grow glossy and being to form stiff peaks – probably another ten minutes. I think this is where I went wrong – I don’t think my peaks were stiff enough yet!

At the last minute, beat in the vanilla.

Heap teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. My directions said to use parchment paper or aluminum foil, shiny side up. I had neither, and an ungreased sheet worked fine for me. Bake at 200 degrees for an hour and a half. Turn off the heat to the oven and let sit at least 3 hours in the oven. Resist the temptation to open the oven!

I made mine in the evening and let them sit overnight. They’re now safely ensconced in an airtight container – unless my husband’s eaten them already!

In other news – I’m reading Catch-22 and my only current comment is – they’re all insane.

Wishing you good reads & great eats!

~Amanda

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