Sometimes we marvel at the smallest things in the kitchen.
Last week, we had an occasion to make meringues -- a new baking endeavor for us.
Meringues have very few ingredients -- they're mostly sugar and egg whites. But this mere combination of sugar and egg whites can transform so easily and quickly into something else altogether, that we found ourselves literally in awe in the kitchen.
We love that feeling, spurred by a moment of cooking when you know you've really witnessed something interesting. Or that you've learned to do something for the first time.
Let's face it. Our meringues are not exactly perfect. They're beautiful in their own way, but they're also "starter meringues." We didn't use a pastry tube -- we used a reusable plastic bag with a corner snipped off. We did an okay job piping them onto the baking sheets. Still, they're a little funny looking. But you have to start somewhere.
These meringues are incredibly easy to make. You do need access to a mixer, so you can beat the egg whites and sugar until they thicken and get shiny. But that's about it.
As meringues go, these taste excellent. But we don't much care for meringues on their own. In fact, we made these meringues for a whole other purpose.
And that purpose is what we'll share next with you later this week.
Makes 20 meringues
Ingredients1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup superfine sugar
8 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. On each, draw 10 4-inch circles.
3. Mix the sugars and set aside.
4. In a bowl or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue to beat, adding 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time and beating well after each addition. This will take about 10 minutes.
5. Add the vanilla and beat at high speed until stiff and glossy.
6. Using a pastry tube fitted with a large plain tip, pipe the meringue in coils starting at the center and continuing to the outside of each circle.
7. Bake about 1 hour, until cream colored and firm. Leave the meringues in the turned-off oven for several hours or overnight without opening the oven door.
8. When ready to serve, carefully peel away the paper or foil.