Snowstorm in a bowl

I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. They said, “What for?” I said, “I’m going to buy some sugar.”
~ Steven Wright

I set out tonight to make some golden caramel ice cream from the cookbook (which I will blog about tomorrow when it hopefully finishes setting in the freezer). The recipe required 4 egg yolks, and it would have been such a shame to waste the egg whites… so I decided to experiment with making meringues :-)

(Wow, the cooking fairy is really having a ball with me this week).

It was such a novel sight for me watching egg whites and sugar merging and becoming something at once a glorified version of themselves and yet so far removed from their former selves. They went from being gloopy transparent mucus and white sandy grains to becoming a silky voluptuous white ballgown, thick and complex, ready for a dance.

I started to imagine myself making snowmen on Grouse Mountain in Vancouver while I rained icing sugar on the mix through a sieve…

Finally, I so enjoyed making little ovals on the trays with the marshmallow mix – it was like painting baby clouds on blank baking canvases.

1 1/4 hours later, I am rewarded with 2 trays of coffee-coloured meringues. Sweet! Recipe below.

    Ingredients:
    4 egg whites
    1/2 cup caster sugar
    1 cup icing sugar
    Method to my madness:
    Preheat oven to 100 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper*.
    In a metal bowl, whisk egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

    Increase your whisking speed and add in the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously. It should be thick and glossy, a little like natural yoghurt. Do not overbeat.

    Fold in one-third of the icing sugar, then another third, then the last third. It should feel like you are stirring up a mid-winter snowstorm in a bowl… again, do not overmix.

    Using two spoons, ease ovals of meringue mixture (now glossy and a little sticky, like gently heated marshmallows) onto the trays – and bake for approximately 1 1/4 hours, until they are a pale coffee colour. Leave to cool. Eat with ice cream or whipped cream, perhaps?

    Yields 23 meringues.

    Note: I would advise the use of an electric mixer… it really is a little painful using a hand whisk/eggbeater.
    * Baking paper makes them stick too… oops. I hear parchment paper, though I’ve never used it before, works wonders.

I pried one meringue off to try it, and it protested loudly against being peeled off the paper… the bottom of it clinging to the paper like a very wet nappy to a baby’s bum. Hmmm… definitely need to give parchment paper a try next time!

The part of the meringue that I could get off the sheet was pretty delicious (think sweet crisp shell and perfect sweet marshmallow cloud inside), although I imagine it would be more deeply appreciated by someone with a VERY sweet tooth (not me). I was too full to finish the whole thing, but here’s a peek into what it looks like inside:

PS. In other cool news, my blog was featured recently on PocketCultures! Thanks Marie for the honour!

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2 responses to “Snowstorm in a bowl

  1. Mmmm… I <3 meringues! One trick you might want to try in addition to the parchment paper is leaving them to cool in the oven with the oven turned off, which is something I've seen in most meringue recipes. You have to watch them closely though, but since making meringues is more of a drying process than baking process, it seems to work well for me! Also, beating meringues by hand IS painful! I feel you there. :-)

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