Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

I had to fill in (on rather short notice) for one of the members of my Sweet Treats group at work, and so this is what I came up with.  I LOVE (love, love, love) meringues.  Always have.  In fact I think they’re the first thing I ever baked.  And so every time I make something with egg yolks I take advantage of the extra whites and whip up a batch.  The Pie isn’t a huge fan of the crispy, chewy, sugary goodness, but that hasn’t stopped me yet.  I’ve even branched out and made different varieties of chocolate meringue, one of which I posted about here.  But I keep seeing fruity versions, so I thought I’d give that a go.  Most of the recipes call for food colouring and raspberry or strawberry extract, neither of which are particularly yummy to me.  I mean, I understand why you would use them in this case — the fluffy egg whites are pretty delicate and would collapse if you put too much heavy stuff into the mix.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

But I think we can give this a bit of a go, with some real fruit.  We just have to be very careful.

What you need is some egg whites, at room temperature.  I have some pasteurized egg whites that came in a carton which has been sitting in my freezer since Cait and Jul were here, so I might as well use that. Then you need some cream of tartar, which is your stiffening agent. And some sugar.  For sweetness.  Obviously.  You can use any sweetener you like, but I prefer the ease of good old regular sugar.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

And you need some fruit.  I’m going to use about a cup and a half of frozen raspberries here, which I thawed, and I’m going to gently stew them for a little bit with 1 teaspoon corn starch.  To prevent lumps of corn starch forming, mix the spoonful of starch with a small amount of the raspberry juice first, to form a slurry (this technique works really well when adding thickener to gravies, too).  I added in a tablespoon or so of sugar, just to get rid of the bite of the raspberry acid.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Then I’m going to strain them (and by that I mean shove the mess through a sieve with a spoon), and come out with a nice little coulis.  Let that cool for a bit.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Now you can start your meringues.  Preheat your oven to 250°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

The regular proportions I use come from The Joy of Cooking, and involve 4 egg whites1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon vanilla (which I made from rum!) and 1 cup sugar.  You can multiply or divide this recipe however you wish.  In my carton o’ egg whites the label says there is the equivalent of 8 egg whites, so I’m going with that proportion, which is a double batch.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Of course, I didn’t learn until after I’d put it all together that pasteurized egg whites (such as those that come in a carton) do not lend themselves well to making meringue.  So I had to start all over again.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
SO very much not what I was aiming for.

So you have your room temperature egg whites, and you chuck them in the bowl of a mixer with your cream of tartar and your rum/vanilla, and you beat the crap out of it with your whisk-y thing.  When you’ve got nice foamy peaks, you can start adding your sugar in, a little bit at a time.  Keep beating until you have nice firm peaks.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
That’s more like it!

These peaks not only hold their own weight, but they can support the weight of the heavy metal whisk as well!

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Once the egg whites form stiff peaks, you can gently fold in your coulis.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

I spooned the meringue stuff onto the baking sheets in decent cookie-sized heaps, and ended up with 42 of them.  Bake them for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (maybe a bit longer if they’re still squishy on the bottom, and make sure to rotate your sheets if you’ve got them on two levels), and let them cool inside the oven after you’ve turned it off.  If you cool them too quickly they’ll collapse.  Store them in an airtight container and make sure to eat them all within a few days of baking.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues
Greetings from inside the oven …

These are strongly reminiscent of those fruit-flavoured hard candies that they hand out in restaurants, that you suck on for a while and then you chew and the inside is all squishy and sticks together.  That’s what biting on these is like.  Taste is very similar, too.

Rum-Raspberry Meringues

Candy Bar Pancakes

Candybar Pancakes

Gren: “Are you guys making pancakes?”

Candybar Pancakes

Me: “No.”

Gren: “Really?  I don’t believe you. I’m pretty sure you’re making pancakes …”

Candybar Pancakes

The Pie and I rarely use our dining room (for eating at least) when it’s just the two of us.  But pretty much every Saturday morning since we moved into Elizabeth has been spent making “special breakfast”, where we do something a little more elaborate than the regular cereal or toast, and we eat it together in our dining room, which offers a charming view of our next-door neighbour’s shed.

In addition, we like to try to recreate things that we’ve eaten in restaurants, just to see if we can’t make them a little better.  Monday’s green curry was one example of that.  This is another, and it comes from one of our favourite restaurants.  They call them “candy bar” pancakes, which is a little odd, because most Canadians call things like Mars Bars and Snickerschocolate bars” (because they’re made from chocolate, not candy).  Maybe the creators just thought “candy bar pancakes” sounded better than “chocolate bar pancakes”, or maybe it’s because the high number of American soldiers stationed in Newfoundland at various points in history have left a lasting remnant of their dialect.  Who knows …

Candybar Pancakes

You can use any pancake recipe you’d like for this, though I would recommend a fluffy pancake rather than a flat one.  If you don’t have a favourite recipe, I’ll give you mine, which comes from the Joy of Cooking, and we usually cut it in half because it’s just the two of us.

Take a chocolate bar or two.  The “dry” kind work best, like Kit Kat or Coffee Crisp — anything without caramel or gooey things inside. We prefer the Coffee Crisp because of the different flavours inside. If you live in the US, see if you can get someone to bring one across the border for you — they are excellent.

Candybar Pancakes

Break it up into pieces and put it in the food processor.

Candybar Pancakes

Pulse until you have small crumbs.  Set that aside.

Candybar Pancakes

In one medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. If you are making this recipe with milk instead of buttermilk, then leave out the baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Candybar Pancakes

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and you’re ready to go.

Use a cast iron skillet to get the best crust on your pancakes.  Preheat the skillet at medium for a few minutes while you’re mixing up your ingredients.  And before you pour in the batter, melt a bit of butter in the pan first.  Then scoop in some batter and let it sit for a while.

Candybar Pancakes

Don’t touch it.  Wait until it starts to bubble and get pitted.  The trick with these pancakes is  in cooking them for as long as possible on the first side, so that when you add the chocolate bar pieces to the other side you don’t have to cook it as long and they won’t burn.

Candybar Pancakes

While you wait for it to get pitted, you can play fetch with your dog.

Candybar Pancakes

This squeaky carrot is from IKEA.  I’m never sure if their stuffed toys are for dogs or for children, but they work great either way.

Candybar Pancakes

Take a spoon and sprinkle some of your chocolate crumbs onto the pitted top of the pancake.  Let them sink into the batter a little bit.

Candybar Pancakes

THEN you can flip it, quickly.  Don’t cook it too long on the second side or the chocolate will burn.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Candybar Pancakes

Or blueberry syrup.  Or whatever floats your boat on a Saturday morning.

Candybar Pancakes

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Raspberry Ice Cream Meringue Sundae

Snow Day Dinner

This was dessert when Fussellette came to dinner last week.

Started first with a meringue (my recipe is from The Joy of Cooking, but you can see a chocolate version here).

We plopped on the meringue some raspberry ice cream (see post here, but minus the vinegar).  Then we topped it with whipped cream, melted chocolate, and fresh blackberries.  Sweet and simple.

Snow Day Dinner

Simple Chocolate Pudding

It is one of my goals while doing this blog to perfect puddings and custards from scratch.  We have already seen the panna cotta I made last summer, as well as the custardy mixture that went into the vanilla ice cream at Thanksgiving, and the custardy failure during the making of my birthday cake.  Here I thought I would dial it down a notch and go with a simple chocolate pudding.  The process is relatively easy, though you have to pay close attention, and all it needs is a few hours in the refrigerator to encourage you to chocolate gluttony.  This recipe (adapted only slightly) comes out of The Joy of Cooking (1997), as all classic recipes should.

In preparation, finely chop 2oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.  Set that aside.

In a bowl, drop 3 tablespoons corn starch.

Slowly add 1/4 cup milk (the fat percentage is up to you, as it’s the starch that makes the pudding thick), stirring until you create a smooth paste.  Set that aside as well.

In a heavy saucepan, whisk thoroughly together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, and a pinch of salt.Gradually stir in 1/3 cup warm water, making a smooth, runny paste.Bring to a boil over medium heat, making sure to stir constantly.

Remove from the heat and pour in your chopped chocolate.  Stir until melted and smooth.

Then stir in 1 3/4 cups milk (again, the fat percentage is up to you — I used 1%MF).

Stir in your cornstarch milk paste.

Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. 

Reduce the heat to low and bring to a simmer, then cook for a further minute.  Remove it from the heat and add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, then pour the hot pudding into 4 or 5 ramekins or pudding cups.  If you don’t want a skin to form, immediately place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pudding surface.  I like the skin, so I left it as is.  Refrigerate your pudding for at least 2 hours before serving, and up to 2 days.

I served this version with some finely grated dark chocolate and fresh raspberries.  You could also serve it with whipped cream.  Nothing beats pudding.

Mo’ Waffles

I’m back in St. John’s for a brief visit.  How I missed my kitchen!

The Pie and I do love our waffles.  They’re not just a breakfast food, either.  They also make a good base for many savoury dishes.  Feel free to add things like frozen fruit or herbs and cheese to your mix.  And you can top them with anything: honey, whipped cream, fresh or frozen fruit, maple syrup, bacon …

The electric waffle iron has made making waffles so much easier.  My brothers and I got this one for my mother for Mother’s Day back in the 1990s, and when I moved to St. John’s I took it with me. 

Once you have properly seasoned your waffle maker (by making a couple batches of super buttery waffles in it), you will never need to do more than wipe the goo off the outside once in a while, and flick off the crumbs left inside after use.

This recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking (of course).  The instructions claim that the recipe makes 6 waffles, but in our little iron it’s more like 12.  Just be prepared to eat lots of waffle-y goodness or halve the recipe.  Sure, you can get a decent waffle out of a boxed mix, but really it’s just as easy to make them from scratch.

Preheat your waffle iron. 

You may also want to set a stoneware plate or oven-safe dish in your oven and set it to about 225°F.  This is where you will keep your waffles warm while you’re making up the rest of the batch.

In one bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 tablespoon sugar.

In a second bowl, mix together 3 eggs, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk.

Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour in your wet ingredients.  Whisk that sucker up good.

Pour some mixture into your waffle iron.  You don’t want it to fill up completely, because it will expand as it cooks.

Cook until your iron tells you it’s ready.  Ours chirps.  It’s rather obnoxious.  About as obnoxious as making heart-shaped waffles.

While you are cooking your waffles, you might want to toss some frozen blueberries, some lemon juice, and some sugar into a pot to make up a quick fruit sauce.Now all you have to do is eat them!

Deathtrap Defeated

***EDIT: Check out this fun bookshelf organization video.  Trust me, it’s more entertaining than it sounds.***

This is my mother’s kitchen bookcase.

As you can see, anyone who chooses a book from any of these shelves runs the risk of becoming imperiled by falling books.

I sat my mother down and made her go through all her books the other day.  My style of organization is purpose-oriented.  The stuff you use, you keep somewhere in the open.  The stuff you don’t use, you either get rid of or you put it in storage.

So anything that my mother hadn’t used in the last six months went into a pile to go into the basement.  It will be her job to sort through it on her own time to decide what she wants to keep and what she can give away.

A much smaller pile of books went straight to a second-hand shop.

This stuff got recycled.

This is what remains, which I sorted by type.

Then of course I got to dust the shelf in a rare state of emptiness.

So of course what is on the top shelf are the books we use the most: Joy of Cooking, family recipe books, the usual.  Also books on baking, just because that’s what I’m doing a lot of these days.

Here we have the all-round cookbooks, ones that cover full meals and a variety of dishes.

Here is the Brazilian version of a Dutch oven, and more all-round cookbooks.

Here are the slow-cooker books and the specialty books, ones that deal with specifics, like marrow bones, pasta, or dumplings.

On the bottom we have soup books and barbecue books, as well as some binders for collected clippings.

Now remember: just because there is empty space here doesn’t mean you have to fill it!

Chocolate Meringues

Happy Birthday Minda!

I love meringues, and they’re something I actually mastered as a young child, though how I had the patience for them I will never know.  The sweet, crispy, chewy lightness of the meringue cookies made it worth the wait.

Recently I’ve been looking at alternative forms of meringue, and other methods of making them.  I made these amazing chocolate mocha meringues last year around Valentine’s Day but of course I can’t remember where I got the recipe from.  Do you remember Kª?  Perhaps it was an issue of Every Day Food.  Who knows …

In an effort to recreate these magic chocolate tasties (and because I had 8 egg whites left over from my foray into vanilla ice cream [post to follow next Wednesday, stay tuned]), I flipped through The Joy of Cooking (2006) for a new take on the old classic.  These ones are from page 741, and I doubled the batch (of course).

Now I’ve mentioned this before, but make sure that your egg whites are at room temperature before you start whipping them.  If they are cold you can always warm them up by putting them in a bowl of warm water.

Preheat your oven to 225°F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a mixer, plop in 1 egg whites, 1 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Whisk ’em up at high speed, and add, gradually, 2/3 cup granulated sugar

When you get to the stiff peak stage, you’re done.

Sift together 2/3 cup icing sugar with 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and fold it into the beaten mixture as well.

If it’s still a little swirly, that’s okay.

Spoon the mixture onto the parchment and shape it however you wish.

I had enough leftover for a large meringue to make into a sort of pavlova.

Bake it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (seriously).  You can see if it’s done if you can remove a meringue from the parchment without it breaking.

Turn off your oven and prop the door open a bit with a wooden spoon.  Leave it like that for an hour or so (again with the waiting).  The trick with good crisp meringue is to let it cool slowly. 

Store the meringues in an airtight container or wrap them tightly for up to three days.

For my little pavlova, I cut up some fruit for the top: raspberries, strawberries, and grapes.

Then I melted some chocolate in a double boiler.

Plopped the berries on the meringue.

Drizzled the chocolate on top.  It’s pretty much a pavlova, minus the whipped cream.

Quick Drop Biscuits

Because I am so very lazy, I adore this particular recipe, which doesn’t involve kneading, rising, rolling, or cutting.  The biscuits it produces taste like butter, my favourite flavour.   It comes from The Joy of Cooking, 2006 edition (page 639).

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Drop in 6 tbsp COLD butter (which is 3/8 of a cup, slightly more than a quarter cup and slightly less than a third, or 3/4 of a stick if you get butter in sticks).

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture until the pieces are pea-sized.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 1 cup milk.  Stir until the mixture is sticky and just combined.

Using a spoon, drop walnut-sized pieces of dough onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden colour.  The don’t expand very much so you can put them pretty close together. 

Be careful not to overbake as the bottoms will burn easily.  Let cool on a rack or eat hot.  Once fully cooled you can store them in an airtight container for a day or two, but they’re best fresh.  This recipe makes about 24 1 1/2″ biscuits.