Saturday, April 24, 2010
saturday: meringues and other healthy eating habits
its been a HEALTHY eating day for me today. breakfast consisted of toast with peanut butter, a chocolate croissant, and 2 americanos. lunch was decent enough, i had toast with eggs & other rich toppings, like mayo, avocados, cheese... but then i decided to use up the egg whites in my fridge that were leftover from the egg yolks i used in wednesday's eggs benedict. i didn't want them to go to waste, so i decided the best thing to do would be to beat those egg whites to death with about a pound of sugar. i made meringues for the first time ever.
back to my healthy food habits. after snacking on meringues, accompanied by decaf coffee to offset the sweetness, came dinner. which consisted of bean dip and a bag of rice chips. and guess what i had for dessert? yup. meringues. and now it is midnight and i am getting my usual late night pangs of hunger.
i used a recipe from donna hay's cookbook flavours - i think i am in love with donna hay's cookbooks, specifically the photography in her cookbooks. if you ever want to see me drool, the next best thing to putting a plate of delicious food in front of me is to put a donna hay cookbook in my hands. or a jamie oliver cookbook. they both have amazing photographers.
because this was my first time baking meringues, i can't really rate the recipe, or compare it with anything else i've ever tried. it seemed a bit more complicated than it could have been though. i had another recipe that just called for egg whites and castor sugar. simple.
however, this recipe called for:
egg whites (4)
castor sugar - i finely ground my cane sugar into a powder (1 & 1/4 cup)
sifted cornstarch - i used tapioca starch (1 Tablespoon)
vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
vinegar (1 teaspoon)
seeds from vanilla bean
pre-heat oven to somewhere between 200 F and 250 F. beat egg whites until 'soft peaks' form. you can tell that peaks are forming when you turn off your beater and lift it up, the egg whites will form a small mountain 'peak.' slowly incorporate the sugar (a little bit at a time) until the batter is smooth, and the peaks are no longer 'soft' but 'stiff.' now the recipe said to fold in the rest of the ingredients, but my batter was way too runny still so i beat the heck out of it until the batter became stiffer, and when i rubbed a bit of batter between my fingers, it was sticky and smooth (you shouldn't be able to feel the grains of sugar). dump the batter into a piping bag, pipe shapes onto a parchment lined pan (make sure they are all similar sizes). the baking time is quite long, because it requires low heat (you want them to dry out, but not to burn), so try to get as many on to your baking sheets as possible and stick 2 sheets in the oven at once. just make sure to rotate them a bit during baking. bake for somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour. i'm sorry i'm so vague on these instructions - like i said, its my first meringue experience. i kept changing the baking temperature and adding more time to the timer. they were too chewy when they first came out so i just stuck them in for more time. apparently its not a good idea to bake these on a rainy day. it was raining today. that's probably why it took so long. stupid moisture.
i just re-read that last paragraph, and i came to this conclusion: if you want to bake meringues, go find a recipe somewhere else and follow it and use your instincts. i can't give great advice after just making them once and failing to keep track of times and temperatures.
but what i can do.... is show you some more photos! yay photos! i think all that sugar is still coursing through my system.
i have to say, baking is not for the weak. it often requires persistence. i'm quite glad i decided to use my electric beater instead of using my old fashioned hand-held egg beater, because i beat that batter excessively and i still don't think the peaks were as stiff as they should have been.