Here begins a week (or probably a bit longer, seeing as we made loads of things) of posts from our Eurovision party.
You would think I would have learnt my lesson after the lime chiffon pie incident that I’m not really meringue material, yet. But no, in a moment of hubris, I decided to try and make miniature meringues for our Eurovision party as a French-Italian contribution. And if you want real proof of my idiocy/optimism, I used the same book, as I did for the chiffon pie. (The Complete Book of Desserts by Ann Seranne, Faber and Faber,1952.)
Italian Meringue – Meringue Italienne
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a saucepan combine sugar, cream and of tartar, and water.
Bring slowly to the boil, and boil rapidly (236F degrees) until syrup spins a long thread when a little is dropped from the end of a spoon or fork.
With a rotary or electric beater, beat egg whites until stiff.
Continue beating until and very slowly pour in syrup.
Add vanilla or other flavouring and continue to beat until meringue is glossy and holds its shape.
Use for cake frostings or pie toppings.
Commenting on smaller meringues, Ms Seranne informs us:
Miniature meringues in the form of drops or kisses make attractive additions to the tea tables. They also contribute decorative touches to an otherwise plain dessert. Sandwich two together with frosting between. Perch them atop a cream or custard or circle them around a frosted birthday cake with a tiny candle inserted into the centre of each.
Biscuits de Meringue Chocolat
Make Italian meringue. Stir in 6 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate pieces melted with quarter of a cup of water or coffee and 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar. Press from pastry bag with plain round tube onto baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Bake in a slow oven (250F, which is ½GM) for 30 minutes. Remove immediately from baking sheets to cake racks to cool and crisp. Recipe for Italian meringue makes 4 dozen.
- The first thing I did was to line 3 baking trays with paper and switch the oven on.
- Then I made the chocolate mixture – I didn’t have any coffee but I did have some rum, so used that instead. I made a half quantity and the resulting mixture was very thick, much thicker than I would make chocolate icing, for example.
- I then made the syrup, christening my a sugar thermometer – a Christmas present. I was very glad to have it because while I could successfully made caramel without one, this recipe requires the sugar not to colour or set into a ball when taken off the heat, (which happens from 238 degrees.) The meringue mixed together perfectly becoming glossy and firm, I used a food processor with the whisk on a fast speed, pouring the syrup very slowly.
- Problems began when I tried to add the chocolate. Despite adding in a small amount first, in order to fully mix in the rest of the chocolate, the meringue became over-worked and collapsed into sauce. I do hate to waste ingredients, so I added a little more cream of tartar (a raising agent), a spooned the mixture into small silicon cases and put them in a low oven (GM2) and hoped they would turn into something edible.
- I cooked them for half an hour and then turned the oven off and left them in there for half an hour to dry out.
Imagine my joy when I took these babies out of the oven:
When I had removed them from the bright cases however, their underbellies revealed themselves to be somewhat less conventionally attractive (ain‘t that always the way?), but I decided to take them to the party anyway.
I described them as ‘macaroons, sortof’ and was glad I had tested one before packing them up, as the rest were consumed by other guests with jovial efficiency, even garnering a couple of compliments. The tops were delightfully crisp and finely textured, with the undersides being softer and slightly chewy. They tasted not like chocolate, but good quality cocoa.
I was really happy with the plain Italian meringue and will certainly attempt it again, not least to recreate a pudding I ate on holiday in Florence a couple of years ago – a biscuit base, topped with a layer of meringue. When I feel more proficient at meringue-making, I may return to adding more ingredients at the later stage, until then I’m going to use the meringue section of The Complete Book of Desserts as inspiration for flavour combinations (Cherry and pecan! Almond and coconut!), rather than gospel.
Whisked by Elly