Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meringues of Various Shapes and Sizes

I've had a recent interest in gourmet baking.  And by "gourmet" I mean anything that seems daunting in my eyes.  Anything that requires whipping, sifting, or peaks automatically turns me off.  It just sounds complicated, right?  You mean, there are multiple steps that have to be followed in that exact order?  Not cool.  

It wasn't until I tried my first chocolate mousse that I realized how easy it could be.

The part that I hate most about baking is all the measuring of ingredients.  I get the purpose, you want to be exact to have consistency of product and baking times, but can't you just eyeball it and throw it in a bowl?  Totally not my style.  But then there's a "gourmet" recipe like this- only two ingredients!  How hard can that be?  But wait- this recipe has both whipping and peaks, this is getting complicated.

Authentic French Meringues:

4 egg whites
2 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
*optional- cocoa powder and chocolate extract

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Butter and flour a baking sheet.

In a glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy using an electric mixer. Sprinkle in sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip at medium speed. When the mixture becomes stiff and shiny like satin, stop mixing, and transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag. Pipe the meringue out onto the prepared baking sheet using a large round tip or star tip.

Place the meringues in the oven and place a wooden spoon handle in the door to keep it from closing all the way. Bake for 3 hours, or until the meringues are dry, and can easily be removed from the pan. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

So, I may not have used a fancy pastry bag with a star tip.  As a matter of fact, I used a gallon ziploc bag with the corner cut off.  Just keeping it classy.

I wasn't pleased with my textural consistency, but that's my fault for trying to food process normal sugar to make confectioners'.  What?  I didn't want to go to the store.  For the chocolate ones (which were way tastier than the others) I used about a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a half teaspoon of chocolate extract.  The cocoa powder mixes in really easily, so I would definitely repeat them.

Oh- and be careful, they are fragile.  And I hear they go well with coffee!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oven-baked Chicken Wings

One of John's many specialties . . .

I guess they could be considered "healthy" because the fat dripped off of them in the oven as they crisped up, and then were smothered in hot sauce to a beautiful perfection.  Blue cheese dressing is a must in this case.

Go ahead, feast your eyes.  They were every bit as delicious as they look.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Strawberry Harvest

Ok, so not much of a "harvest," per se, but it was still a lot of fun and anticipation.  I hope they flower again before the summer is over.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains

Sorry for the windshield smear.  We were driving kind of fast, and many bugs were killed along the way.