Monday, January 24, 2011

Meringue for the Resolute

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If I had but one morsel to tide me over for a lifetime, if some cruel cosmic joke required me to make a decision wherein I could only choose a solitary confection among the thousands I adore, I would tap meringue.

In my dessert doomsday scenario, I would adopt a pastry that's allowed to be many things at once.

Meringue is an island:  Ile Flottante!

Meringue is multi-cultural:  Swiss, Italian, French!  Oh my!

Meringue is the tops:  Lemon Meringue pie!

Meringue is a ballerina:  Pavlova!

Meringue is fancy:  macaron!

Meringue is svelte:  It's fat free!

During this one month in which we cling to a misguided belief that we can be resolute in our culinary restrictions, let's not forget that meringue is there to sweeten the dog days of caloric restraint (granted, it's full of sugar but let's ignore that for now).



Resolute Meringue

This is a riff of a traditional Pavlova:  schmear a blob of meringue onto a baking sheet, with out any real care for presentation.  Once it's baked you slather with whipped cream and top with fruit.

In the spirit of parsimony and structure, I prefer to pipe the meringue in tight circles and sandwich with a lightly sweetened greek yogurt.  The presentation, however, if entirely up to you.

For the meringue:
preheat oven to 250º

Ingredients

5 ounces egg whites (approximately 5 egg whites)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 pinch salt

Procedure

-Whisk together egg whites, vinegar and pinch salt until foamy
-Stir together sugar and cornstarch and slowly pour into the egg white mixture with the mixer beating on medium high.
-Whisk on high until you achieve medium stiff peaks.  Be very careful not to over beat the meringue that it becomes dry.



-Draw out 4" circles on a piece of parchment (I draw out 8 circles.  This may require two sheetpans). Flip the parchment over onto a sheetpan so that the ink or pencil is face down ( you don't want it to transfer to the meringue) but your still able to see the outline of the circle.


-Fill a large piping bag fit with a medium open tip with the meringue and pipe disks within the confines of the circles.  Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes.


-On another sheetpan, lined with parchment, pipe small hearts with remaining meringue.  Bake the hearts for 15 to 20 minutes.

For the filling:

Ingredients

1 cup greek style yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 pint raspberries

Procedure
-Drain excess yogurt water away.  Mix yogurt and honey together well and chill.
-Layer one meringue disk (that's completely cool) with 3 tablespoons yogurt, making sure to leave room along the edges for the raspberries.  Line the perimeter with raspberries and top with another disk of meringue.
-Pipe a small dollop of yogurt onto the center of the top disk and apply a small meringue heart.
-Serve immediately.
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