Tag Archives: egg whites

Macarons: What Works for Me (and a recipe)

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The macaron-phobe has finally become a macaron-pro. I know, modesty isn’t one of my strongest suits, but hey, this is a moment I’m really proud of. The amazing thing with confidence is that it allows you to experiment, break a few rules. And I want to share the fruits of my success with you.

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Filed under Cookies, French Desserts, French pastries, macarons

Dark Chocolate Soufflé

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I bought these traditional ramekins a long time ago; the pretty white porcelain ones with the ridges on the outside that I’ve been meaning to use wisely. I buy Bakeware and accessories because my heart wants me to and I later on find recipes that might make good use of them. Grocery store aside, a baking supply store is my candy land. I go in circles gawking at cake moulds and accessories and if I find anything unusual, I fight my indefatigable urge to buy it and more often than not I lose!

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So I thought I can’t have these lovely ramekins lying around and not make soufflés. One of the main reasons why I’ve been putting it off is because if they don’t pop up, all puffy and pillowy like they are supposed to, my heart might just break. I’ve braved many a baking disaster in my time but that doesn’t mean I don’t get upset. There’s always that inkling of pain that follows a cracked cake and I have to confront it, if I have to go on and bake the same cake next day.

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Macarons with Chocolate Pastry Cream filling

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Petite things can be daunting. It doesn’t matter how many reassuring blogs of detailed, step by step, macaron troubleshooting guides you have gone through, how many little notes you have made at the end of every failed attempt, so much so that over time, all of your refrigerator magnets have stacks of little macaron-making notes beneath them. And in my case, it didn’t even matter that I had attempted making macarons 12 times; I still didn’t manage to get them right. It still beats me how such a small, wonderful thing which technically has all of 4 ingredients, can be so excruciatingly painful to make.

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Filed under Cookies, French Desserts, meringue desserts

Pomegranate and Rosewater Pavlova

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Warning alert: This dessert is jaw-achingly sweet even for a sugar hound like me. If you forbid desserts that are beyond the normally accepted levels of sweetness, this one is not for you. But do stay on, I might just lure you into becoming a convert through an eloquent description of this snow-white meringue dessert, of whipped cream and fresh fruits ; and so I begin….

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Some say that Pavlova originated in New Zealand, while some believe that it was first created in Australia. However, like with the case of many desserts, the origin of Pavlova will continue to be a subject of bewilderment. What we do know for sure is that it was created in honour of a Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. She must have been an immaculate dancer, to have a dessert named after her..

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From its traditional ensemble of meringue topped with strawberries, kiwi fruit and whipped cream, a Pavlova has manifested itself into many avatars. This one for instance, has travelled all the way from the land of Kiwifruit and Kakapos to the Mediterranean, of pomegranates, pistachios and rose petals generously strewn over ripples of whipped cream and meringue clouds.

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The egg whites are whipped to a stiff peak along with caster sugar. They are then slowly baked in a mildly hot oven. Essentially, the meringues have to be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, like marshmallows. If you don’t much care for pomegranates, use fruits that are not overly sweet.

Ingredients

For the meringues

  • 3 egg whites
  • 175 g caster sugar (bring it down to 150 g if you want to cut the sweetness)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice

For the filling

  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds
  • Handful of pistachios
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  • Rose petals, to decorate

Method

  • Spray a baking sheet with oil and line it with parchment paper. Draw a 20 cm/8 inch circle on the parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
  • In a clean, stainless steel bowl, using an electric beater, whip the egg whites (at room temperature) to a frothy consistency (30 seconds). Add the lemon juice and continue to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until they form stiff peaks (5 minutes).
  • Now, using a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue over the prepared baking sheet. Use the circle drawn as a guide the spread the meringue. Keep the centre slightly hollow. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, create ripples on the sides.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 140 C. Bake the meringue for 1 hour. After the meringue has been baked, allow it to cool in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar.
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add rose water and the strawberry jam. Whip again.
  • After the meringue has been completely cooled, spoon the prepared whipped cream in the center. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Dust icing sugar and decorate with rose petals.

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Meringue Cookies

Are you a fan of cotton candy? Well I am. I like that sort of jaw-aching sweetness. Meringue cookies remind you of cotton candy, except they don’t look anything like neon pink spun sugar. They are a lot more docile, pure white, as they should be but as fun as cotton candy.

Now there are a lot of rule books written on meringue-making but these are the ones I follow:

– Separate your eggs when they are cold. They make separating easier. Before making meringue, bring the egg whites to room temperature.

– Clean, clean, clean. Clean bowl, clean whisks, clean everything.

– Use an electric beater. Using a hand whisk was an age old method, unless you have that sort of arm power, I wouldn’t recommend it.

– Add a pinch of cream of tartar or salt to your egg whites before beating them. They stabilize the egg whites hence your egg whites foam up more.

– Beat the egg whites for a while till they form soft peaks before adding sugar.

– Add the sugar in 2 or 3 batches.

– Every recipe calls for different meringue consistencies, and for meringue cookies, you will need to attain stiff peaks. There is no written duration as to how long you will need to beat your whites to achieve stiff peaks.

– When your egg whites are stiff, they will be glossy and when scooped out by a whisk they will stand straight. Try tilting the bowl on your head and they shouldn’t fall out. I’ve tried it and they really don’t.

–  Do not over whip your egg whites. They will break!
– You will have to bake the meringues between 79 C – 94 C approximately. Now this is the tricky part – most domestic ovens, including mine, start only at a 100 C. So I preheat my oven at 100 C.

– Your meringues shouldn’t change colour drastically. They should retain their whiteness. Mine usually becomes a very pale blond, but that’s okay, they are still tidy as white.

– What you should look for when the meringues have come out is a crisp exterior and a chewy interior. When you bite into them, they do turn into oblivion.

This is pretty much everything you will have to know about baking meringues. Now, off to the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar or salt

Makes approximately 30 – 35 cookies.

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 100 C.
  • Get two 9 by 11 inch baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. Set them aside.
  • Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them on med-high speed until they form soft peaks.
  • Continuing to beat, add 1/2 the sugar. Beat in high speed for 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
  • Fit a disposable piping bag with star nozzle. Fill the piping bag with meringue mix. Take some of the meringue in your finger and smear on the baking sheet so that the parchment paper sticks to the sheet. Do the same for all the corners of the sheet.
  • Start piping the meringues into shapes of your choice. Usually meringue cookies come in little rosettes. For this, hold the tip right above the baking sheet (90 degree angle), and apply a little pressure on the bag till you think you have achieved the desired size. You can also make little swirls or logs like I have. I believe piping is very intuitive. Go with the flow.

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  • Bake the cookies in for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. If you don’t want to bake them all at one go, you can bake them in two batches.
  • Once the cookies are done, cool them. You can dip them in chocolate sauce, ganache, sandwich them with jam or simply dust cocoa on them. They taste lovely plain as well.

meringues with strawberry jam copy

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