Friday, April 18, 2008

Cover something in enough whipped cream and no one will know the difference

It’s a Friday night, so what am I doing, the expected thing for a young man on a Friday night of course: cooking. As all of us head into finals, people are sadly pulling into their studying shells, leaving nothing to do on Friday nights. However, a friend of mine is having a brunch tomorrow morning, which gives me an excuse to cook tonight.

Not long ago (but before this blog began) I made a large number of crème brulees for a dinner. The crème brulees were good, but left me with a lot of extra egg whites. Combining the ready availability of already separated egg whites with my desire not to have to do extra work (read: laziness), I decided that I ought to make pavlova’s for my friend’s brunch. Pavlova’s aren’t really a breakfast food, but brunch is really just an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast, so I wasn’t deterred.

In looking at recipes, I selected this one from epicurious for pavlovas with mixed berries. I chose it mostly because it called for 13 egg whites, and I already had 10, which I didn’t want to try to divide. The recipe wasn’t particularly challenging, but the meringues didn’t turn out particularly good. Pavlovas get their unique texture from cornstarch and vinegar. Unfortunately, I added too much vinegar (spilled a little while measuring over the bowl, oops). The result was that while the texture was ok, they tasted too vinegary. I also spread the meringues a little too thinly at points. Fortunately, the next part of the recipe is to cover the pavlovas in whipped cream and berries. Rather than plain whipped cream, I decided to make a honey-vanilla whipped cream. Piled with enough whipped cream and berries the vinegar fades into the background, and the pavlovas become not half bad. Overall I wouldn’t make them again, but they were at least edible.

Also, this recipe also calls for whipping up egg-whites. This time I got some pictures so that I can demonstrate what I mean.

UPDATE: I served these to my friends this morning, and with the berries and whipped cream on top they were really good. I think the vinegar taste faded a little over night. I also think the whipped cream by itself really stood out, and I'm going to look for ways to use it in the future.

For Meringues

13 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups superfine granulated sugar (castor sugar)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or sil-pats .Separate the eggs. Once the eggs have been separated put the bowl over a simmering pot of water until the eggs are just barely warm to the touch:

Once the eggs are warm, attach the bowl to your standing mixer, or get your hand mixer. Add the salt and beat the eggs into a foam. I found that without sugar, the whites would get foamy, and form stiff peaks very fast. When the eggs got to that point I added the first 2 cups of superfine. After that I kept beating the eggs at high speed. With the sugar added the eggs quickly took on the glossy sheen I’m used to with whipped egg-whites. Continue beating the eggs until they reach stiff peaks.

This is what foamy, stiff egg whites look like on the end of a finger before sugar is added

Once the egg whites reach stiff peaks, mix the last half cup of superfine sugar with the cornstarch. Beat the cornstarch into the egg-whites. Follow by beating the vinegar into the eggs (make sure not too add too much).

Once the mixture is fully combined. Begin measuring out quantities of Meringue, between a quarter and a half of a cup, and mounding it up, and creating a little well in the middle. Bake the meringues for about an hour and 15 minutes. They should be a brownish color on the outside.

here are the Meringues after they have been baked:

For Honey-Vanilla whipped cream

2 cups heavy cream – chilled
3/4 of a cup of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla paste

Whip up the cream at medium speed in a mixer. Once the cream reaches stiff peaks, add the honey and vanilla and beat until combined


I used a mix of frozen berries for the topping, since that was cheaper than fresh. To get the berries ready I thawed them, then mixed them with a little sugar. Since the vinegar already gave the meringues a bit of an acidy taste, I decided to skip on the lime juice. Once the fruit is mixed together. Take a meringue, pile some whipped on top or in the little well if there is one. Then put some fruit on top.


Aquila said...

Your friend is really lucky to know someone who makes things like this on a regular basis!

They were GREAT, imho. After the berries and whipcream sat on them for a few minutes, they were a perfect texture to pick up and eat, and tasted great.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.