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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Like Eating Puffy Clouds! (And a Weekend Full of Cookies)

Lemon semolina cookies
and walnut shortbread
It's Wednesday! Between moving, the holiday, family visits, and baking galore, it's been hectic! I had a very special cookie order to fill this weekend, and the results were addictively yummy.

So after all of the cookies in boxes (and *cough cough in my belly cough cough*), I was looking to make something light and airy. What better idea than puffy meringues! Cookies, ice cream, and cake, oh my! Here we go...

Mint Chocolate-Chip Meringues
Gale Gand

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 eggs)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract or mint flavoring (not mint oil)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped or grated
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the egg whites and sugar in the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water until warm to the touch; this will help you get more air into the whites when you whip them. Transfer the whites to a mixer fitted with a whisk and whip until soft peaks form. Add the mint extract and continue whipping just until stiff and glossy. Fold in the chopped unsweetened chocolate.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe bite-size kisses onto the cookie sheets and bake until the meringues are the color of milky coffee, 25 to 30 minutes. To test, remove one meringue from the oven, let cool for 1 minute, then taste; it should be dry and crisp all the way through. Let the meringues cool on the pans.
  4. Melt the semisweet chocolate over a water bath. Dip the tines of a fork into the chocolate and drizzle the meringues with melted chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is set, 30 minutes to an hour (or let set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes).
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Pavlovas - not just about dogs...
Three-Layer Berry and Brown Sugar Pavlova
Maggie Ruggiero

For meringue:
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
  • 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (from 5 to 6 large eggs) at room temperature 30 minutes
For berries:
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 pound blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For cream:
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chilled sour cream
Make meringue:
  1. Preheat oven to 275°F with rack in middle. Lightly butter 3 (8-inch) round cake pans, then dust sides of pans with confectioners sugar, knocking out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper.
  2. Pulse superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined.
  3. Stir together vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Spoon meringue into pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and smooth tops.
  5. Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour (insides will still be marshmallow-like).
  6. Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringues in oven 1 hour. (Meringues may sink slightly and crack while cooling.)
  7. Run knife along sides of cake pans and carefully turn meringues out of pans. Carefully peel off parchment (meringues will be fragile and the crust may crack further). Carefully turn right side up.
Macerate fruit while meringues cool: 
  1. Toss berries with sugar and let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour).
Assemble dessert:
  1. Beat heavy cream with sour cream using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks. Put 1 meringue on a serving plate and spread one third of whipped cream over it. Spoon one third of fruit (with juice) over top. Repeat with remaining meringues, cream, and fruit.
Cooks' Notes: Meringues can be frozen, individually wrapped, up to 1 month; thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

For hot summer nights...
Hazelnut Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches
Elizabeth Falkner

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Goat's Milk and Brown Sugar Ice Cream or store-bought ice cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Turn the oven down to 200°. Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Let the nuts cool.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts with the 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar just until finely ground.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt at low speed until frothy. Add 2 tablespoons of the super- fine sugar and increase the speed to medium. Add another 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar and beat for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and slowly beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of superfine sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Fold in the hazelnuts.
  4. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the meringue onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread into a 2 1/2-inch round; repeat to form 48 rounds. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in to dry for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  5. For each ice cream sandwich, scoop 1/4 cup of the ice cream onto the underside of a meringue and top with another meringue. Serve at once or wrap individually in plastic and freeze.
MAKE AHEAD The ice cream sandwiches can be frozen for up to 2 days.

Happy baking!

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