I am over the moon. literally. well, not quite literally. but almost there. I had the good fortune to have an exclusive baking class WITH hands on experience with the super duper dessert and pastry team at the Courtyard by Marriott last week. Needless to say, it was one of the most awesome experiences ever! :) The joy was only multiplied by like a zillion times 'cos of the fact that i got to do it on my birthday! Darling Non stick, knowing his wife' weakness for adventures with the oven just had to do this for her. P.S: I know for sure that I am married to the right guy when things like this happen. :D Yes, i am blessed!
So one of the goodies on our repertoire was Meringue petit fours. This was the first time i was attempting the meringue. Pardon my ignorance and foolishness all you meringue lovers, but i had always dismissed it as eggy, wannabe macaroon-ish and 'not my kinda sweet fix'. i know, who was i kidding?.... ANYway, we worked on, piped it out and joked and made fun of each other' piped out shapes and exchanged some tips and i now proudly say, i love meringues! maybe the experience of doing it in a five star kitchen with such friendly folks had something to do with it as well.
Either ways, i plain love it. It's quick, easy and pretty on the eyes. I loved how the egg whites whipped up to the perfect consistency and how thick and glossy they got. I helped pipe out perfectly shaped/sized (and few not so perfectly shaped/sized 'cos the big pastry piping bag had to take some getting used to) meringue. I was intrigued at how something as simple as egg whites could metamorphose into something so different. And the taste of crispy baked meringues! it literally, and i am not exaggerating, literally melts in your mouth. Neat stuff man! I had to make a batch the next day and i tried. and was mighty pleased. I mean, it is kid' stuff, but you know how the simple stuff in life can make you so happy. It's not rocket science. It's just making meringue. You've got to try it. Be it for a quick treat. or for a bake sale. or for a children' party. or to distribute as birthday treats (yes, that is what i did in office). or to stock up on the sweet quotient in the house.
Reading it up online, i came across this cool blog with very helpful pointers about making meringues. You will need to keep in mind the following notes... just in case, as Russell Peters would say:
Making meringues is kinda an art, especially in an ultra humid city. That just means that you have to be meticulous about certain things. Like how spotlessly clean your bowl, utensils, piping bag, blender blades, basically anything the egg whites come in contact with should be! Believe you me, being clean bordering on OCD is good here. Try to use glass or steel stuff as much as you can, as plastic tends to have a film of grease how much ever you may clean them.
This recipe makes 40 average sized small cookies. So to begin with, you will need :
Another thing you have to be particular about is the measurements. You may want to keep in mind, the ratio is 4 tablespoons for an average sized egg white.
2 Egg whites
8 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vinegar
Sprinkles for garnishing
How you go about it:
-Preheat oven to 110C
-Line the baking tray with baking paper.
-Make sure the eggs are at room temperature and carefully, i repeat very carefully separate the whites from the yolk. You dont want even the tiniest speck of yolk in the white, as that can mean disaster in whisking the whites to the consistency that we want. To be sure, make sure you separate them into separate smaller bowls before transferring the whites alone to the mixing bowl.
-Whisk the whites till soft peaks form.
-Gradually, and i repeat, gradually add the sugar and continue to whisk till the sugar dissolves and the mix becomes a thick, luscious and glossy mix. The mix should be beaten till it hits the stiff peaks stage, which is to say, it appears glossy and when the beater is lifted, the mix stands in tall peaks and it does not curl at the tips.
-At this point, add the vinegar and continue to whisk till combined.
-At this point, if you want to color the meringue pretty colors, separate parts into separate clean bowls and add the desired colors. I chose to go ahead without color but to add a a quarter teaspoon of the exotic Gianduia. Whisk again till just combined .
-Scoop into the piping bag and let your imagination run amok. Fascinated-by-the-wife'-antics/exclamations-Non stick chimed in and wanted to do 'kisses' à la Hershey, but with a twist. We loved it. and i named it 'Oreo' kisses'. 'Cos it is pretty, like Oreo. And swirly too, like her. Sprinkle the non pareils or jimmies.
Bake for an hour or so a little less, depending on how crisp you want your meringue kisses.
- A note about baking the meringue: It ought to sit in the oven for 55 min or an hour 5 min depending on how marshmallowey or crisp you want them to be. Do the skewer test and check if the inserted skewer comes clean. If you like it a tad browned leave it on in the oven for 5 minutes longer at 120 C.
Once done, turn off the oven and let the meringues cool inside the oven for another 20 minutes.
You are good to go! :)
To store: Meringues do not keep well in humid areas. So make sure you store them in an airtight and dry jar, each separated by a sheet of baking paper. Also, however greedy you are, always dry your hands before digging into this jar or picking up one of these babies.
Indeed a happy Birthday! :)