Meringues

I’ve only recently started making my own meringues. It came about after a weekend at the Serpentine Lido. The swans were out and my five year old commented on how much more graceful they were than the ducks at our local pond. This, I told her, was why there weren’t any ballets about them.

And thus began a conversation about Anna Pavlova, the Russian prima ballerina who danced the role of The Dying Swan more than 4,000 times and had a dessert created in her honour. That was it for Helena. She insisted we had to make a pavlova for Sunday lunch.

Since then, we’ve been on a meringue making kick. Below is our recipe. It’s very easy and yields lovely marshmallowy meringues as light and fluffy as Anna Pavlova’s tutu.

 

Ingredients:

egg whites

caster sugar

cream of tartar

*Weigh you egg whites. Double this weight and that’s how much caster sugar to use. For each egg white, add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar.

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to Gas 2/150°C/300°F.

Line a metal baking tray with wax paper.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites then beat them with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a dessertspoonful at a time and continue beating until well incorporated and there is no sugary grit at the bottom of the mixture. When the mixture is smooth and glossy, it’s ready to be baked. Do be careful not to over beat the mixture or the meringues won’t rise properly.

Pipe or spoon the meringues on to the wax paper. If you’re making a pavlova, spread the mixture into a large circle.

Put them in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to Gas 1/140°C/275°F. Allow them to bake for an hour and a half. Rotate your tray halfway in between. After this time, turn the oven off but leave the meringues in there to cool.

Enjoy them on their own, with ice cream, or berries and whipped cream.

 

 

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Scarily Good Ghostie Meringue Cupcakes

ghosties

Today was the first bake sale of the school year.  Being a new reception(that’s kindergarten if you live in America) parent, I took the opportunity to show off a little.  I asked my daughter what kind of cake she’d like me to make and she said CUPCAKES!  At first I thought, ugh too twee but the more I thought about it, the more I realised Claire Ptak’s sweet wine cake would probably not be appreciated by the kinder set as much as I love it.

So with Halloween around the corner, I decided to make chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, Oreo cookie crumbs, and Swiss meringue ghosties.  Everyone loved them.  Except for Helena.  I am ashamed to say she bought a pink sparkly fairy cake that came in a plastic wrapper instead.

 

 

Ingredients for the cakes:

2 ½ cups flour

2 cups sugar

5 heaping tbsp cocoa

¼ t. salt

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 cup strong hot coffee

 

Method: Mix ingredients together except for the baking soda and hot coffee.  Dissolve soda in hot coffee then add to batter and gently stir to mix.  Don’t be alarmed by how liquidy the mixture is.  This is why the cakes are so moist.  Fill cupcake holders ¾ full. Bake at 350F/180C/Gas 4 for 18-20 minutes.

 

Ingredients for the chocolate buttercream frosting:

250 grams (about 2 sticks if you’re in America) unsalted butter, softened

4 cups powdered/icing sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

75 grams melted dark chocolate

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

 

Method: First, put the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a small simmering saucepan of water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  When the chocolate has melted, set it aside and allow it cool to room temperature.  Then combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a hand mixer or standing mixer to beat the frosting until fluffy.  If you think it’s too thick, mix in some milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you desire.  Be careful though, thicker is better for this frosting.

 

Ingredients for chocolate cookie crumbs:

1 sleeve of Oreo cookies

Method: Simply put the Oreos in a food processor to blitz.  When they are all crumb, put them in a shallow dish.

 

Ingredients for Swiss meringue:

6 egg whites

220 grams of caster sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

thermometer

 

Method: Whisk the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl.  Once combined, place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking.  Place the thermometer in the mixture.  When it reaches 160°F/71°C, remove it from the heat.  Using an electric mixer, start beating the mixture on a medium speed.  Increase the speed after a few minutes high and keep beating until shiny stiff peaks form.

*Heating the meringue to 160°F/71°C will pasteurize it, just in case you’re worried about eating raw egg white.

 

Other items you will need:

black food coloring on a plate

a birthday candle with a plastic holder attached and/or a matchstick

a pastry bag with a wide nozzle

 

How to assemble the cakes:

  1. Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost them with the chocolate buttercream.
  2. Gently dip the frosted sides of the cupcakes into the Oreo crumbs.
  3. Spoon the meringue into the pastry bag.
  4. Pipe ghosts on top of the Oreo cookie covered frosting.
  5. Dip the pointy end of a birthday candle holder or a matchstick into the black food coloring. Carefully dot it on the meringue ghostie to make eyes.
  6. Using the bottom of a birthday candle, dot on a mouth doing the same.

For transport, I used a Freddie’s Flowers box!  It was perfect.  Who knew?

 

 

in-a-box