Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Disastrous Macaroons and Delicious Meringues


                                                Light as a Cloud Meringues =  Many Sweet Options!

A few weeks ago I was thrilled when Yates Yummies got a milestone hit!  Blogspot has a statistics feature that keeps track of how many times the blog has been looked at.  I can't see who visited this site, but the stats do share the search words that people googled to get here.  Some are pretty amusing.  My all time favorite happens to be, "is eating white chocolate with sangria dangerous?"  Recently the August 5th post, "Jose's Chocolate Dipped Macaroons", started getting an inordinate number of hits.  Out of curiosity I googled the words "Jose" and "Macaroons".  Up came the page with Google's suggested web sites.  All websites but my blog directed people to Jose Marechal and his book Irresistible Macaroons.  It turns out that these multicolored cute little egg-white/ ground almond cookies are supposed to be the new cupcake in the foodie world.  Intrigued, I hit on the Amazon link and ordered the book.  When the book arrived, I decided to give it a whirl.  What a lot of effort and what a disaster it turned out to be!  With all the steps that had to be taken - ground the almonds, make a paste with the nuts, boil water and sugar, incorporate it in with egg whites, etc. - I realized I was out of my league! However, as I was whipping up the egg whites I got a flash from the past.  Several years ago, I was lucky to spend some time with a friend from New Zealand whose husband was briefly working in the U.S.  Her trademark offering at pitch-ins were melt in your mouth meringue cookies. She would top them with whipped cream and sometimes kiwi slices. Once she made a classic Pavlova which is one large round meringue filled with fruit and whipped cream. Quickly, I threw my disastrous macaroons in the trash and dug out the handwritten recipe she gave me. It was so simple and so easy!  I made a batch and had a lot of fun pairing them with different sweet combinations.  My favorite involves the Luscious Lemon Curd recipe given below, especially because it's a great use of the egg yolks not used for the meringues.  I also made some smaller sized meringues to make sandwich cookies with various fillings. Ice cream was a great pairing as well.

Simple Meringues
3 egg whites (set eggs out a couple hours before hand)
3/4 cup of sugar
pinch salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (makes it a little easier for eggs to whip up)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Follow the steps below:

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and draw circles the size you prefer for your meringues

Break eggs open and separate whites from yolk by passing yolk back and forth between the shell halves

Beat the eggs, salt, vanilla, and cream of tartar on high until they reach a soft peaks stage

Gradually beat all the sugar in until the mixture is glossy and stiff

Put a tablespoon or two in your drawn circles and spread the mixture flat with the help of a spoon

Bake at 275 degrees in a preheated oven for one hour, then turn the heat off, keep the door closed, till cooled (all night is ok)

Layer with fruit and whipped cream (or Cool Whip!)

or topped with ice cream

As sandwich cookies filled with raspberry jam, Nutella, and orange marmalade

With luscious Lemon Curd - my favorite!

 Luscious Lemon Curd:  In a pan over medium low heat, whisk together the 3 left over egg yolks,  the juice of 2 lemons, and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Then stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture gets thick, being careful never to let it boil.  Take it off the heat and stir in 4 tablespoons butter (I used "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) until combined.  This is absolutely divine on toast in the morning or as a filling between two layers of a yellow cake frosted with whip cream!

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