Jan 3, 2007

A Thingue about Meringue

You have to admire egg whites. I mean there they are, looking like snot run amok, until you beat them mercilessly and they attain their full glossy glory. If you add sugar, cocoa powder, and yes, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, you've got Nigella Lawson's recipe for "Gooey Chocolate Stack" well under way, my friend. The egg whites will transform into three lovely meringues (or orangutans, as Will called them).

As for the six yolks that have been divorced from their whites, you beat those (with less dramatic results) with cream, sugar, and milk, and add melted bittersweet chocolate and vanilla and you've begun creating the chocolate creme de patissiere to dollop over the big flat meringues. Like Nigella says, chocolate heaven. I brought this to a New Year's brunch and it was devoured. Even though Jack and Will say they like Hershey's chocolate better than the Scharffenberger's I used, they had no objections to eating this rather adult confection. I found a copy of the recipe here, with no attribution. It's from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, p. 185. I couldn't find pistachios so I sprinkled slivers of honey roasted almonds over the top. If I ever find candied violets, I'd like to use those. I am in love with just the idea of candied violets.

Oh, if you make this? Please be advised that Nigella may be a relaxed cook but when she says to make the meringues eight inches across, she means eight inches. So don't make them nine. Because then the meringues will be too thin and the chocolate creme will absorb them. And also? Please do assemble this layered creation just a few minutes before eating, because, again, the absorption situation. The meringues must be crisply separate and distinct from the creme for maximal mouth feel. (Why am I talking like this?)

We don't eat meringues so much in the U.S. and I don't know why. They are often called pavlovas in Britain and Australia and have a fruit sauce. Nigella's word for the meringues in this recipe is "gungy," British slang for, well, pretty much exactly what the inside of a meringue is like. On this side of the pond we have no slingue to describe meringue. Our loss.

3 comments:

M-j said...

My in-laws make amazing meringues and have taught me to make them. I sometimes make them too thin (because it must be thick and spongy) but there is nothing like chocolate and raspberries or strawberries and REAL whipped cream dolloped over top!

Mmmm...I can taste that choco concoction already...

Ken said...

If a post ever needed a picture, this one did. :(

Sugarmama said...

I am so very fond of desserts incorporating those crispy meringue layers. Back when I used to manage a bakery I was forever trying to introduce meringue desserts into the repertoire. Customers loved them but the bakers were extremely intimidated by making them. Maybe that's the reason they're not so much used here?

A couple of my favorite meringue confections: plain meringue "bowls" with fresh seasonal fruit salad and lightly sweetened whipped cream; and cocoa meringue "planks" sandwiched with chocolate hazelnut mousse. The nice thing about those smaller meringue items is that you can easily whip up an individual sized dessert if you have the meringues on hand. And of course they keep for quite awhile stored airtight.

But you know this already. I'll shut up with the meringue talk already...