Monday, July 22, 2013

DISH | cherry meringue two ways




mini cherry pavlovas

cherry eton mess

In case it isn't abundantly clear, blogging is quickly becoming an obsession. Sure there's the huge time commitment from the many hours redesigning and developing recipes but it's quickly becoming more of an identity than I ever thought possible. And that's got me thinking. When did cooking become my passion? What is the future for eathalifax? Who am I in the kitchen?

Sometimes I forget just how much cooking is in my blood. What might seem a daunting culinary task to some is second nature to me. It's rare that I follow a recipe and even developing recipes can prove difficult with my season-as-I-go approach. I'm not saying there aren't huge flops in my kitchen but generally ingredients simply come together. Cooking just happens.

Today was no different. After snagging a pint of local cherries from Noggins, my local seven-days-a-week-farmer's market, it was off to the kitchen to let the magic happen. With summer in full effect and temperatures steadily hovering around 30, a light dessert was all I would consider. Noticing some egg whites all alone in the fridge, meringue seemed like the natural choice.

And, yes, I can simply jam those egg whites in Big Red and follow my instincts. Perhaps that sounds crazy but that's just how I've always done it. It was finally time to slow down, measure, and take a minute to ponder just why I'm here doing what I'm doing.

Now this is simply a recipe for cherry meringue with which I made two dishes: mini cherry pavlovas and cherry eton mess. For both you will need to macerate the cherries. Simply pit the cherries then roughly chop/mash them with a sprinkle of sugar. Let them sit to release their juices. When the meringue is cool, you can make some whipped cream. A great trick I somehow stumbled upon during my tree planting days, most likely because the beaters were dirty, is to make it in the food processor. Simply add the cream and turn it on. Sprinkle in some sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla (both to taste) and process til thick. You can even even hear the point when it is ready; it becomes quieter and you no longer hear liquid sloshing around. It's quite amazing actually. But be warned. If you forget about it and it goes past this point, you're on your way to butter. Though that can't be a bad thing can it?

For the mini pavlovas, fill the meringue shells with the macerated cherries then the whip. For the eton mess, simply layer crushed meringue cookies or shells with macerated cherries and whip then repeat. I like to think of eton mess as a trifle's naughty cousin, where the soft, delicate cake is replaced with the unexpected crusty meringue. It's especially great if your meringue cracks or breaks. Whip this up and no one would know you planned anything but an incredible dessert. Garnish both with a cherry and prepare to impress.

cherry meringue two ways 


Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Luxardo Maraschino liquor 
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200.
  2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar til soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until stiff peaks form and meringue is no longer gritty. Beat in the Luxardo.
  3. For mini pavlova, drop large spoonfuls on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread into small circles, leaving the edges higher so a nest forms in the middle.
  4. For cookies, fit a piping bag with a large star tip. Fill with the meringue and pipe in rows. Alternatively, drop by the teaspoonful.
  5. Bake for about 1 1/2 hour til dry and crisp. I generally turn the oven off and leave them in there til completely dry. You can even do this overnight.
  6. This makes a lot of meringue. Think 8-10 nests PLUS a dozen or so cookies. You could even make a single layered pavlova if perhaps you wanted to attempt this masterpiece.