Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello everyone! I am sorry that it has been awhile since my last post. As I have mentioned before, I am in London for the semester so I have been busy sight-seeing and traveling and pretending to study, etc. The truth is that although I have been cooking a bit since my last post, there haven't really been any new recipes coming from my kitchen and nothing really worth posting. But, alas, it is Valentine's Day tomorrow and I thought that called for a new post: a sweet post. Because what is Valentine's Day with a whole lot of sugar, right?

Last year I made these scones in a heart shape for me and my roommates for breakfast. The scones were followed by a heart shaped pizza and sparkling cider (because I was only 20 and I'm an angel) and probably loads of chocolate but I can't remember.

This year, two friends and I bought some sparkling strawberry wine and plan to pick up cupcakes from a local bakery to celebrate the occasion (as we are all in a new city and don't have dates) but I decided something homemade would be a nice addition. Why not meringues? They have the most beautiful giant meringues at pretty much every London market and seeing them all the time has made me want to try and make some of my own.

I have a confession though- they kind of failed. First, i didn't have parchment paper so i decided oiling the pan would be fine. Second, I think I overcooked them because I was working on a paper and not keeping track of time. When trying to get them off of the pan, I kind of massacred the whole thing. This goes to show that parchment paper or one of the non-stick sheets really is necessary. I ended up trying a couple that I actually could get off the pan and they actually did taste good. They didn't have the chewy texture on the inside like I wanted (due to over-baking them) but the flavor was right. So, all in all I don't think the recipe is the problem, I think it was my carelessness. So I am going to give you the recipe anyway and hopefully you will have better luck with it. It just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without a celebratory blog post.

Valentine's Day Classic Meringues
4 whole egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 215 degrees F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Start by separating all of your eggs and placing the egg whites into a mixing bowl (either metal or glass but not plastic). With a hand mixer, beat on medium until stiff peaks form.

Once stiff peaks form, start to add the granulated sugar in, a little bit at a time. It should take you about 5 or 6 additions to add all of the sugar in. Each time you add more sugar, beat the mixture for about 4 seconds before adding more.

Once all of the granulated sugar is incorporated, turn off the mixer. Now add 1/3 of the powdered sugar and fold it into the egg whites. Keep doing this, 1/3 at a time, until you have added all of the powdered sugar.

Next place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet, leaving a little room for the meringues to expand. Try, if you so desire, to swirl the drops so that the meringues turn out pretty. Now all that is left is to bake for about 75 minutes. The meringues should sound crisp when tapped on. The texture should be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Let them cool either on the baking sheet or on a cooling rack before eating!

Yep, that's it. That's the basic recipe. To spice things up you could add an extract like vanilla, or almond, or maybe even peppermint for the holidays? Or maybe to make it pretty you could add some food coloring before baking when you are folding in the powdered sugar. I scattered multi-colored sprinkles on top before baking and they turned out really cute!

My Meringues- not beautiful but cute in their own quirky way. (Forgive my lack of a decent backdrop for pictures)

Meringues at Borough Market. This is what I aspire to be able to make!

They say (or someone says) the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so if any ladies have forgotten a Valentine's gift, last minute baking is always an option. And men... girls love a guy who can cook.

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

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