Sunday, November 30, 2008

Meringue Kisses (Page 684)


  • Date: Saturday, November 22, 2008 -- 11pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Paul K, Jeremy, Kelly, Norm, Beth, Scott B, and Lauren K
  • Recipe Rating: A-

We desperately needed something sweet in our apartment last week (there was no dessert to be found -- even in the freezer. I had resorted to eating plain brown sugar to satisfy my sugar craving!), so these meringues, which are basically just sugar and egg whites, sounded very appealing! The recipe was simple enough. I beat egg whites, superfine sugar and a pinch of salt until I had stiff glossy peaks, and then I put it into a pastry bag (in many batches!) and piped out little kiss shapes onto baking sheets lined with parchment. The Book instructs you to cook them in a 175 degree oven until crisp, which is supposed to take about 2 hours, and then turn off the oven and let them sit in there another hour. After 2 hours in the 175 degree oven, my meringues were nowhere near crisp. After another 30 minutes they were still not crisp. So I turned up the oven to 215 and then after another 20 minutes they were crispy. I then turned the oven off and let them sit in there for another hour. So the recipe as written didn't quite work for me. However, most likely this was not the fault of The Book. Most ovens have a very hard time accurately holding low temperatures. So it is more than possible that my oven, set to 175 degrees, wasn't actually 175 (I don't have an oven thermometer, so I couldn't check). In any event, these meringues may take longer than indicated, so give yourself some extra time when making them, and only turn off the oven when the texture is right. They were worth the wait though. These meringues were very tasty. My special gentleman gave them an A+ and ate at least 6 dozen of the 9 dozen meringues that this recipe made. I wasn't quite that enthusiastic about them, but for meringues they were extremely good. The texture was just right: they were crispy, but melted in your mouth. They tasted basically like sugar, but that is what you are usually going for with meringues. Making good meringues is all about the texture, and this recipe hit that right on the nose (at least it did with the method I described above for baking them). These meringues were far and away better than those packaged meringues you can buy at the grocery store, so if that is your only experience with meringues, you should give this recipe a try!

The recipe in The Book is the same as the meringue kisses in this recipe, except the one in The Book only calls for 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Someone inquired in the comments recently about what exactly the grading scale on my blog means. I have explained it before, but not for a long time, so I am going to give a brief overview again for any new readers!

F: I rarely give the grade of F, and only to things which are so bad that they end up immediately in the garbage disposal. To earn an F a recipe must not only taste bad, but really be repulsive.

D : A grade of D indicates that I (and whoever I was grading with) was unwilling to eat the recipe, past the bite or two necessary to grade it. A D recipe is truly bad.

C-, C, C+ : These grades indicated that I didn't particularly enjoy eating the recipe. A C+ recipe might be salvageable with significant changes, but a C- recipe is usually pretty hopeless.

B- and B: These are grades that I give to recipes which I enjoyed eating well enough, but probably wouldn't bother making again.

B+ : This is the grade I give to recipes that I enjoyed and would make again for myself, but probably wouldn't serve to company.

A- : This is the grade that I give to a recipe that really impressed me. These recipes I would happily make again, and would serve them to others.

A : To earn an A a recipe has to be out-of-this-world amazing. An A recipe is the kind of recipe I crave weeks after making it, and am anxious to make again for the people I care about most.

A+ : This grade exists only in theory. I haven't yet given an A+, and I am not sure I will. The A recipes are already totally amazing, so I'm not sure what would inspire me to give an A+.


Sabina said...

hello, i'm a lurker, but thought i might chime in on the fine art of meringue's truly affected by climate, moisture content in your kitchen, and the humidity outside--all those things can account for the variation on cooking time and temperature, if you have any sort of draft in your oven that may also have an affect. i have a chocolate chip recipe that came from sunset magazine that i've been using for years, but never on a rainy day.

Daniel said...

Also, my mom makes meringues for passover with vinegar and they become delightfully chewy on the inside.

Adam said...

Thanks, Teena, for the explanation of your grading scale. So far, my grading has been very subjective and inconsistent, and my wife has accused me more than once of grade inflation. If you don't mind, I'm going to borrow your grading scale as a guide for my own blog.

Teena said...

Sabina -- yeah, meringues can be very temperamental. I am sure the directions as written in The Book would be just right under certain humidity conditions!

Daniel: Huh, I would never have thought to add vinegar. Perhaps I will try that.

Adam: You are more than welcome to borrow my grading scale. I get accused of grade inflation to, but having a rigid scale does help with that!

Sue said...

Thanks for the explanation of the grading scale!

Teena said...

No problem!