Recently, I have been watching an awful lot of the show the Great British Bake Off. It is exactly what its title suggests; a group of non-professional bakers from all over Britain who are in a competition to be recognized at Britain’s best baker. It is lots of fun and many of the desserts and bread and treats that are baked on the show are completely foreign to me as an American. I’d never heard of Brandysnaps or Battenberg Cake before….but everyone in the bake off, even if they’d never baked it before, knew what those things were.
Anyway, all of that baking inspired me, so the other day I decided I would bake. After a bit of searching the internet for a good gluten free recipe (now THAT is something I would like to see the British Bake Off do- gluten free….that would add a whole new level of difficulty to the show!). I found a recipe for Espresso Meringues coated in melted dark chocolate. The recipe didn’t look to hard and I’d just watched an episode where meringues were made, so I figured I would give it a go.
How little did I know!
I gathered all the ingredients and then purchased those I didn’t have. Well, I separated my egg whites, a little yolk got into it, but not much, and then I read the next step. Add cream of tartar….didn’t have any, so I used a bit of vinegar. Then I went to find the motor for the whisk….for the life of me I could not figure out what the whisk fixture that obviously connects to something motorized went to. Ok, no problem, I have a normal whisk. How hard an it be to get soft peaks and then stiff peaks? Just a bit of wrist action and elbow grease right?
I got the egg whites to a lovely soft peak and then went to add the sugar and whisk to the stiff peak…….Fast-forward twenty minutes and I have googled why my eggs won’t peak. Well, that tiny bit of egg yolk, that will stop the whites from doing what they are supposed to. Another thing I had unknowingly done wrong was use a plastic bowl. Plastic retains grease and that can keep the egg whites from stiffening.. GRRR. So that was a load of egg-white soup that I threw out.
Not really wanting to repeat my wrist-aching whisking, I borrowed a metal bowl and electric egg beater from my in-laws house. I then preheated the oven to 200 and whisked the eggs away.
Everything was going smoothly and I had the mix dolloped onto the baking sheets and in the preheated oven. My timer was set for 2 hours. I thought it was time for me to relax. Well about ten minutes into the bake, things started to smell a bit burnt. I checked the oven and sure enough, the top pan was browning alarmingly! So I switched the racks around and the trays, just thinking that that rack and tray had been to close to the top element. It got my wondering though and I checked the recipe….low and behold the oven was indeed supposed to be set at 200… FAHRENHEIT not Celsius.. A panicked moment later I had the oven door open and the temperature knob turned way down. I waited for the red light to turn back on. The oven cooled and I closed the door for the remaining 1 hour 40 minutes. After that timer went off, I turned the oven off and opened the door for a bit for another hour.
During that time I melted 85% dark chocolate. Once the meringues were done and cooled I dribbled the melted chocolate onto them and put it in the refrigerator to set for 25-30 minutes.
With all that went wrong, they actually turned out delicious! Oh and I didn’t use salt….still tasted good to me!
I found the recipe on RealSimple, but that is a photo of my not so elegant meringues.
- 2large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1/4teaspoon kosher salt
- 1pinch cream of tartar
- 1/2cup sugar
- 4ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Heat oven to 200° F.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the vanilla, espresso powder, salt, and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Very gradually (1 tablespoon at a time) beat in the sugar; increase mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture holds glossy peaks.
- Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
- Bake until dry, crisp, and firm, about 2 hours. (The meringues are done when they release easily from the parchment.)
- Turn off the oven, prop open the door about ½ inch (use the handle of a wooden spoon), and let the meringues sit inside for 1 hour. Slide the parchment (with the meringues on top) onto racks and let cool completely.
- Peel the meringues off the parchment, then dip the bottom of each into the chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate just until the chocolate is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.