After all that nonfat frozen yogurt, I was ready to get back into the artery clogging ice cream so I unearthed Bertha (that’s my Cuisinart ice cream churner’s new name) for the first time since arriving at Tufts. I adapted a “Chocolate Supreme” recipe, turning it into a chocolate peanut butter ice cream. In all honesty, it was a little too rich for my liking, but maybe that’s because I was coming off a pretty intense fro-yo diet. I would’ve added a half cup of whole milk to the mixture. This also would’ve increased the amount of ice cream, which was nowhere near as much as the recipe’s supposed quart serving.
As sucked the last remnants of chocolate from my spoon, I found myself faced with a familiar problem… what am I gonna do with these egg whites? I had three perfectly good whites and no idea what to do with them. I thought of Mark Bittman, and decided to make meringues.
I’ve only attempted meringue cookies once before, and they didn’t turn out well. The issue then was my use of regular granulated sugar—you need to use superfine sugar. This type has smaller granules, thus it dissolves with more ease. If you ever look at sugar, the box sometimes says (10X or XXX). This is referring to the level of fineness, and isn’t denotative of pornography in any way, shape, or form.
I don’t own any superfine sugar, but I do have a food processor (currently unnamed) and granulated sugar. You don’t have to be a boy scout or an iron chef to figure this one out. I was amazed by the aroma given off by the pulverized sugar. You can easily describe a flavor as sweet, but a scent? And what does sugar smell like? Granted, I’ve been storing my vanilla beans in sugar, so that flavor probably contributed to the scent.
Meringues are easy to make as long as you know how to whip egg whites. If you’re new to this technique, check out these tips. I didn’t have any cream of tartar, so I used lemon juice to provide that acidic support. For flavoring, I just used vanilla extract. Once the whites reached soft peaks, I gradually added the sugar until I got stiff peaks. Baking meringues takes forever, so I don’t suggest putting them in the oven at midnight. Mine took two and a half hours. Once they were done, I turned off the oven and brought them upstairs for a late night snack. What I should of done: open the oven door a crack, and keep them inside the oven until the morning.
Meringues (makes about 3 dozen small (1-inch diameter) meringues
3 egg whites
¾ cup superfine sugar (see note below)
½ tablespoon vanilla extract or other flavoring
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (or a squeeze of lemon juice or a few drops of white vinegar)
(optional) food coloring (My friend wants me to make them green next time, as they proved to be good luck token for Sunday’s Jets game.)
pinch of salt
1.) Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2.) Beat egg whites with flavoring, coloring, salt, and cream of tartar until you reach soft peaks
3.) Gradually add the sugar until you have glossy stiff peaks.
4.) Place a small amount of meringue in each corner of a cookie sheet. Then cover the cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. This is done so the meringues don’t stick to the cookie sheet and so that the parchment paper doesn’t slide around.
5.) Using either a pastry pag, plastic sandwich bag with a tip snipped off (no moil necessary), or simply a spoon, place a dollop on a parchment papered cookie sheet.
6.) Bake for about 2 and half hours. The easiest way to tell if they are done is to see if they stick to the parchment paper. If they do, they aren’t done. If you can pluck them off without a problem, then turn off the oven, and let them sit for at least another hour or so.
NOTE: If you do not have any superfine sugar, just place the sugar in your food processor for about 30 seconds.