Mistress Strangelove; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Meringue

victoria —  April 13, 2005 — Leave a comment

I know it seems a strange thing to have a loathing for, but I have always detested meringue in either form it has been presented to me in the past. The wet pile of foam on top of key lime pie always seemed a travesty to me and the ruin of one of my very favorite things. In it’s dry, crumbly form, meringue always seemed the victim of too much breeding and not enough education–all sweetness and light with no substance.

In the last week I’ve had reason to revisit meringue, this time in the guise of a base for macaroons. My eyes have been op’d (in the most poeticly expressive way) and I have a new love for meringue.

In baking class on Saturday, I made almond macaroons. From my reading in French cookbooks (some which didn’t even include a recipe for macaroons because they were labelled as best left to the pros) and from the discussion on French macaroons on eGullet, I was terrified that I would be assigned them. I braved it and found that the batter went together very quickly and easily. Admittedly, it did not involve the “drying” the egg whites overnight and other very long steps that the French cookie book I borrowed from the library detailed.

After bagging the batter and putting little rounds on a parchment sheet to get sifted with powdered sugar and left at room temp to dry for ten minutes, I baked them for about fifteen minutes and produced perfect little almondy buttons with a lovely sheen and chewy centers. They even had the prerequisite lacy edge on the bottom. I don’t like to toot my own horn (okay, sometimes I do), but they looked amazing and tasted fabulously of almonds with a hint of vanilla and not of the cottony styro that I have always associated with anything meringue.

To further test my new appreciation of meringue, I made coconut macaroons for a dinner party we had last night. I was a little nervous as I was making two new dishes and then decided on a new dessert as well (breaking my father’s cardinal rule of not cooking something for the first time for guests). I just got a new cookie cookbook and pulled the recipe from there. These were big monsters with lots of coconut but more meringue than chewy, gooey coconut. Keifel and James both commented on the melt-in-the-mouth quality. I am amazed and a convert.

It seems I love meringue after all, at least where it concerns a nutty macaroon.


On the roasted chicken front, we have finally had an unqualified success. I rightly suspected that it was our roasting pan and the fact that it had very high sides. I switched to a casserole with some veg in the bottom and Keifel seasoned the chicken in the morning. I let it sit for about three hours and then roasted it at 375 F for an hour and a half total, covered with foil for 45 minutes then naked for the remaining time. The bird it browned and juicy and tastes fabulous. It’s about damn time. Two successes in one week!



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