Tag Archives: meringue

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Mousseline Buttercream

Strawberry Cupcakes

When we are invited to my husband’s sister’s house, I usually offer to bring a salad and dessert.  When I think of it, that pretty much sums me up, and I’m smiling because I’ve never thought about it quite like that before.  I love salad and vegetables, and I enjoy making dessert.  Often those are the two items people may not have time to make when they’re putting a big dinner together, so I also like to think that my contributions lighten the load a bit.  If you really know me, you’re thinking she just needs guinea pigs for her experimental cooking and you’d be exactly right.

But since this past weekend we were celebrating Easter and there would be two very cute little kids there, I decided to make cupcakes.  Fluffy, frilly, sprinkly cupcakes.

Pink cupcakes.  Hopefully my nephew would see past the color and focus on the flavor?

Right about the time I was finished decorating and positioning the cupcakes for photos, it occurred to me that I’d have a problem getting them to our destination in pristine form.  I’d blame this on bad planning, but it’s more a case of cerebral flatulence.  Usually, I’m fine carrying whatever it is I’ve made while my husband drives, making sure that while we’re on our way, going down steep hills or around corners doesn’t cause everything to slide around.  But my husband was at work last Saturday, and we’d agreed that I’d pick him up on our way.  Just a bit of a problem.

I drove carrying a plate of these lovelies held like a waitress carries a tray just waiting for someone to see me and think oh jeez, now I’ve seen everything or ask if they might sample one as they pass by in the cross walk.  I was semi-successful getting them to their destination with only a couple of mishaps barely noticeable by my darling little niece who greeted me at the door all dressed in pink.

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A Pavlova for Tartelette

White Tulips

 

Some of you may know that I was asked to do a guest post for Tartelette.    You know, The Tartelette?

Yes.  I know.

Of course I had a few moments of the puffy ego syndrome after an initial self-indulgent happy dance before I snapped out of it and began to fret about what to make.  Ohhhhhh, the sweet agony of making this particular decision.  I’m a meat and veggie type of person, comfortable with trying a bit of this and a bit of that.  I have a fondness for salad and greens, and a little addiction for the perfect muffin.  But making something special that would look like it belonged up front and center on Tartelette’s site?

Well.  You have no idea the fuss I made over this.  You’d have thought the Queen of England was coming to dinner.  Seriously.  But I had so much fun.  Far more fun than I’d have had if I’d needed to choose a little black dress for an event as swanky as that.

I don’t do little black dresses.  Ever.

But I learned quite a bit making A Pavola for Tartelette — or Helen, who is quite the amazing person if you’re fortunate enough to know her.

I hope you take some time to visit her, read my post,  and decide what you think of my Pavlova — definitely more of a tutu than a little black dress if you ask me.

And no, I don’t do tutus, either.  It just might conjure images of dancing hippos instead of ballerinas.

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Lemon Meringue Pie: A Study in Meringue

OrangelogoIt is nearly 11 PM on the night before I am supposed to be posting my latest Daring Baker challenge.  One would think that after almost a year has gone by since becoming a Daring Baker, that I would actually complete a challenge with enough time to wipe the sweat from my brow, catch my breath, and swear I’ll never, ever procrastinate again.

But no.

Clearly, I haven’t learned.  I’ll spare you the proverbial excuses and say that I’d planned to snuggle into bed to read more than three paragraphs of the current book I’m dragging myself through when I had an acute attack of the guilties.  Or, maybe it was just that I didn’t want to not be present when the party started.  Because I know right now, that if I chose to click on certain links, some of the Daring Bakers have posted  because it is already "tomorrow" where they live in the world. Living in the most southwestern corner of the US, I’m one of the last to greet midnight.  The hour that, it is LEGAL to post our latest challenge.

So.  No bed.  No novel.  Tell me.  When was the last time you witnessed such dedication?  Okay.  Whatever.  I’ll get on with it.

This month, our Lemon Meringue Pie challenge was hosted by Jen The Canadian Baker.  And to me, the challenge would be about the meringue.  It isn’t that I haven’t made meringue or that when I do, it doesn’t turn out.  It’s more about the perfect meringue (as if I could actually hope for this…).  The meringue I saw on top of a pie featured in Saveur last March (ironically, my very first challenge and dismal failure — you can hear that bomb dropping, right… as a Daring Baker was featured in the very same article!)  was, in fact, a lemon meringue pie, but oh my goodness.  Not like one I’ve seen before:  the meringue piped in bold sweeps toward the center making it look like an exotic flower.  Amazing. 

How did they do that?  One would think that meringue is meringue.  No big deal.  Egg whites and some sugar.  Lots of beating.  Voila!  Right?

Wrong.

An so this challenge will go down in history as being one of great revelation, and defeat.  *sigh*

For the recipe, please visit Elle at Feeding my Enthusiasms.  It’s past the magic hour now, so she’s the first one I found who has her post up!

Here are my sordid details.

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The Crust

I chose to use my food processor.  I’ve become accustomed to it and since Dorie Greenspan gives it her approval, why not?  This recipe’s crust is very good.  It behaves.  I made three small tarts in tins with removable bottoms and three free form tarts, baking them on the same sheet.  The shells in the tins were more delicate, and not as crunchy as the free form disks — which were, in my opinon, too hard.  You know, kind of like something someone would throw in the Olympics.  Of course, I probably left them in the oven a bit too long, so  I’ll have to try this again some time.  The flavor was great, though, with no complaints coming from the menfolk in the house.

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The Curd

Okay.  Confession time.  You’d think living in Southern California, I’d have lemons coming out my ears.  In fact I went to the store today.  Do you think I bought lemons?  Nope.  But thankfully, I did have some at home — just not enough to squeeze 3/4 cup of juice from.  Close, but no cigar.  Sooooooo…..I had to use a tangelo to make up the difference.  I know.  But it’s citrus, right?  And I have to tell you, that an entire tangelo squeezed into 2/3’s cup of lemon juice makes quite a pretty sight in the measuring cup colorwise, but in the end, the flavor of the curd was still lemon.  But a tangelo meringue pie does sound kind of tasty, doesn’t it?

This curd comes together very nicely.  It thickens quickly.  In fact, it’s so thick, adding a bit of it to the egg yolks to temper them was interesting, but it worked just fine.  It also stays nice and thick while the cook has to mess around with dinner, make sure the crust is not burning, and the meringue is ready to go.  The flavor is excellent, and I have lots left over for hmmmm….maybe Peabody & Helene’s doughnuts.  With powdered sugar…Mmmm…

Where was I?

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The Meringue

I have another confession to make.  I made the meringue from the Saveur recipe.  I know.  I’m sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  Here are my excuses:  1)  I helped my mother make her first lemon meringue pie from scratch at Christmas; 2)  I made a chocolate meringue pie for my husband for his birthday; and 3)  my husband said, "Just make the one in the magazine."  I know.  I’m supposed to make the one in the recipe we are given.  But I looked at the ingredients and the method, and it was nearly exactly like the others.  And I was DYING to make the other because it calls for sugar heated to the firm ball stage, and then slowly poured into the egg whites as they are beaten until they cool completely.  It’s totally amazing!  And I now know that this is THE perfect meringue.  PERFECT.

Except I was messing around with candied orange peel and left my tarts in the oven too long!  GAH!  Like one really needs candied orange peel with one’s lemon meringue pie, doesn’t one?  NO.  One doesn’t.

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That’s what I get for cheating.  But still.  How could I not do what this man told me to do?

 

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He was doing the laundry for gawdsakes.  The hat is courtesy of my sister who wanted him to be warm when we visited her family at Christmas.  Don’t even ask why he has it on now.

I learned something new (not that cheaters never prosper…), and that’s what made this challenge fun for me.  If you’re interested in trying a different kind of meringue, see what you think.  Just don’t burn it like I did.

And don’t forget to check out the other nine gazillion Daring Bakers and their Lemon Meringue Pies!

Chocolate Pie a la Grandma Dorothy

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Somewhere along the course of attempting to be more "green," I’ve decided to give up my long held subscription to Bon Appetit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I truly enjoy the magazine, but it doesn’t make sense to get the magazine if I can surf through epicurious whenever I feel like it.  Currently, the publishing company is in denial that I’m leaving, so they keep sending me offers and bribes, and more issues of the magazine.  Like the January issue that is sporting the "Dessert of the Year:  Chocolate Pudding Pie."

Well, who knew?

One of the things I married when I married my husband was his Grandma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie recipe which was his Grandpa Al’s favorite.  Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet either of these lovely people.  But my mother-in-law graciously provided me the card so that I could make it for my husband on his birthday each year because not just any chocolate pie would do.  Ahem.  I suppose I get that, but if you’ve gotten to know me at all, you now realize I’m an obsessively compulsive "avoid making the same recipe EVER" type of cook.

How could I possibly make the same pie year after year?  I couldn’t.  And I tried a few times to make other pies, but he’d never really eat them.  So he’d make his own.  Or he’d make one for Father’s Day to share with his dad because Grandma Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie is my Father-in-Law’s favorite as well.  Now, isn’t that cute?

So I thought it was about time that I gave this pie a close look and a makeover for my husband’s birthday this past December. (Doncha just love people with December birthdays?  It’s not like we aren’t busy or anything, is it?)

I began with the pie crust because the original recipe calls for "1 baked pie shell" which could be something found in a freezer and purchased. Horrors!  Actually, I’m kidding, but I don’t love any pie enough to slam it on the table with a frozen pie crust.  Where’s the adventure and daring in that?  Just think of all those pie dough recipes out there waiting to be experimented with…

So I went back to my most trusted recipe for a flaky pie dough from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia.  I’ve been trying to memorize this recipe because it isn’t rocket science, but each time I’ve made it, I’ve done so in different quantities.  I love this recipe because it provides directions for making the dough by hand, with a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and with a food processor.  I’ve tried it each way, but prefer the food processor the best because it’s so simple.  The only aggravation is dividing the recipe, because it makes so much dough.  Here are the amounts for half the recipe which will make two pie crusts or a double crusted pie (and yes, I still have half of it in my freezer):

Flaky Pie Dough

2-5/8 c. flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

3 oz. unsalted butter

5-1/2 oz. shortening (1/2 stick Crisco + 6 T)

1/2 c. ice water

To Make the Dough:  Make sure all ingredients are very cold before starting.  (I put the butter and shortening in the freezer for a while) Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times.  Cut butter and shortening into cubes and scatter across the flour in the bowl.  Pulse only until the mixture looks like clumps of slightly moist cornmeal.  Add a bit of the ice water and pulse.  Continue only until the mixture looks clumpy and will stick together when pressed.  Do not process until it comes together in a ball like other recipes you may have used.  Scrape the dough into some plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

To Bake the Crust: Center a rack
in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Fit a piece of
parchment paper or aluminum foil into the pan and fill with rice, dried
beans, or pie weights.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is
set and lightly browned.  Remove the paper and weights and cool the
shell to room temperature on a rack before filling.  If you’d like to see the photos from a previous post, click here.

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Chocolate Pie Filling

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Scharfenberger’s Dark)

2-1/2 c. whole milk

3 T flour

3 T cornstarch

1 c. super fine sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 T unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the chocolate in milk in a double boiler pan and blend with a rotary egg beater (I used a whisk).  Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt.  Add to chocolate mixture and cook 15 min. stirring constantly.  Mixture should be think and smooth.  Stir in a small amount of chocolate mixture into egg yolks.  Return to double-boiler and cook a few minutes longer.  Add butter and vanilla.  Cool.  Pour into cooled pie shell.

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Meringue

3 egg whites (I used 3 and added 4 more from a bag in the freezer)

4 T sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg whites until they hold a stiff peak.  Add sugar gradually (1 T at a time) beating constantly.  Add vanilla.  Pile lightly on filling.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until meringue is brown.

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Notes:  I used a tart pan with a removable bottom for this pie just to see how the crust behaved.  It was not bad!  I didn’t extend the dough to the top of the pan because of the depth, so the edges were a bit uneven.  No one complained.  My pie pudding didn’t come out nearly as dark as when my mother-in-law makes this and I can’t figure out why.  Hers is nearly black.  She said she uses whatever chocolate she can find at the grocery store (Baker’s ?) so I’m still wondering about that one.  As far as the egg whites go, three egg whites aren’t remotely enough for a meringue pie in my opinion.  Since eggs freeze so nicely and I always have extras in the freezer from previous recipes, I just decided to see how big I could get my meringue this time.  It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t quite take my time with the piping.  Our family has always been a "pile it on" type of family, so piping meringue was a new thing.  It’s feels a bit different than piping frosting or cream — not quite as cooperative.  I probably needed to whip the meringue more, but I was trying to stick to the original recipe as much as possible.

All in all, it turned out just fine, and he ate the entire pie himself.  Absolutely no calories there, right?

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Personally, I’m thinking I might try the pudding recipe on the cover of Bon Appetit, just as a comparison.  Just to see if I can for once and for all, trick my husband.  It won’t work, of course, but it will be fun trying.