Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Peppermint Meringues, Attempt #1
While I've made a decent souffle or two in my time, I don't yet have a very good relationship with whipped egg whites. I think it's the kind of thing I need to see someone else do once or twice--so I know exactly what stiff peaks look like for future reference. I also need to improve my ability to take things I've learned in previous cooking experiences (like cream of tartar helps your egg whites stiffen) and apply it to new recipes. This is all a preamble to the fact that I tried to make Martha Stewart's Peppermint Meringue Chocolate Sandwiches the other night, and as you can see, they didn't turn out very well.
The recipe was a warm-method meringue, and it never quite stiffened as much as I think it needed to. I ended up with something like marshmallow fluff. I decided to attempt piping it anyway, though I have little experience with this skill either. The combo of the gloopy mix and my inept wielding of the pastry bag resulted in peppermint egg whites all over the kitchen, on my shoes and even in the cat's water dish. Not to mention that the red stripes I'd attempted to paint on the pastry bag a la Martha's instructions resulted in barely visable pinkish stripes. The recipe calls for red gel food-coloring, and I think this must be different than the red gel icing pen I picked up at the grocery. Anyone know where to get gel food-coloring, and if that's actually different?
Anyway, I piped some flat circles (the meringe was too syrapy to hold star shape) and popped a sheet in the oven. This is where the story starts to get better, because they actually turned out quite tasty. The festive look from the magazine was not there, but I figured they'd still work as chocalate ganache sandwiches. Then, of course, things took a turn for the worse when I realized the cheap-o chocolate I'd bought at Albertson's was actually...
UNSWEETENED. Gross. By this point I was too uninspired to attempt sweetening the ganache with sugar or anything. So I was left with a tupperware full of quarter-sized peppermint meringues, one or two of which gets popped in my mouth whenever I head into the kitchen.
I plan another try of this recipe sometime this week. I've now looked through the Joy of Cooking's section on meringe, and it's so much more helpful than Martha's recipe. I think I will try a non-warm-method meringue, and definitely use cream of tartar. Any other tips you have for meringe perfection, please let me know!