The Magic of Meringues

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Want to feel like a goddess in the kitchen?  Then try making these melt-in-your-mouth meringues with chocolate sauce and creme Chantilly.  Oh my.  Seriously.

Making meringues is a new experience for me.  The association I had in my mind with meringues was how Mom would put golden peaks of meringue on top of lemon pie - slightly moist and slippery.  Not my favorite thing, let me tell you.  But that was back in the day when I was young.  So when one of my heroes of the kitchen published her first cookbook with an awesome recipe for meringues, I was sold.  Actually, it was the photographs that sold me.  They looked nothing like the meringues of my childhood.

There are some tricks to the trade of making perfect meringues, as I have learned.  
     1.   There can't be a drop of egg yolk in the bowl with the whites. 
     2.   Your mixing bowl must be pristine - not even a fingerprint on the inside. 
     3.   Don't pick a cloudy, humid day.  Your meringues will flop.  

Other than that, it's a piece of cake, er, meringue.

Chocolate Meringue Swirls with Chocolate Sauce and Creme Chantilly
Recipe by Mimi Thorisson (A Kitchen in France)

6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cream (for whipping, to serve with the meringues)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (Here's a trick:  I didn't have parchment so I sprinkled - very lightly - a bit of cornmeal on the cookie sheet.  Worked beautifully.)

Whip the egg whites in a mixer until they hold medium peaks.  Add the salt and whip, adding cornstarch and then the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, until all sugar has been added, then continue to whip until the whites are stiff and glossy. 10 - 15 minutes total. Gently fold in the cocoa powder.

Spoon the egg whites onto the baking sheet, twirling the tops with a spoon. This will make six meringues. If you like, you can dust a bit of cocoa powder on top.

Bake for one hour. Turn off oven and leave the meringues in it, with door slightly open, for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Handle gently!  They are fragile and break easily, so use care when transporting them.

To serve (preferably same day), whip the heavy cream.  Put meringues on dessert plates, scoop some whipped cream next to each one, and drizzle with chocolate sauce (recipe below).  

Bow to the applause of guests.

Chocolate Sauce:

6 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup or dark corn syrup
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

Mix the water, cocoa powder, sugar and syrup together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir  until smooth.  Let cool for an hour before serving.  If needed, add a few drops of hot water to get to desired consistency when ready to serve.

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