Posts Tagged ‘meringue’

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Baked Alaska

September 8, 2009

Why Baked Alaska? My husband mentioned it a few times, so I asked him what the deal was with Baked Alaska. Was he dying to have some? His response was “I know it’s hard to make.” Those are fighting words! Neither of us had ever eaten it, and I don’t think he knew what it was, but I knew I was up to the challenge. And the really fun part is that as you read this, we are in Alaska! It was fun to eat Baked Alaska while planning our trip to Alaska.

I did some research in cookbooks and online and found that there are a lot of interpretations of this classic dessert.  I decided to make two individual-sized servings. These have a brownie base and chocolate peanut butter ice cream: one of the tips I found when researching is that you want an ice cream that will contrast the color of the meringue. This was also an opportunity to use a couple of things I was planning to make anyway, and to use some egg whites that I had in the freezer. So although there are a lot of components to this dessert, it wasn’t too much work to make it.

BakedAlaska2

The components:

  • For the base, I used a brownie baked in a standard-size muffin pan. When I made Brownie Buttons for Tuesdays With Dorie, I baked a few in my regular muffin pan, left the white chocolate off, and stashed them in the freezer. You could also use cake or a brownie cut into a circle about the same size as a scoop of ice cream.
  • For the ice cream, I used this Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream.
  • For the meringue, I whipped three egg whites with 1/3 cup sugar and a tiny pinch of salt. If you have a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours, look at the meringue tips on page 400. I used a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whipped the whites and salt on high speed for a couple of minutes, then added the sugar slowly. I stopped when the meringue was smooth and glossy and pretty stiff: if you can flip the whisk attachment upside down and the meringue holds a peak, it’s ready. Three egg whites was more than I needed for two servings, but I baked the extra meringue to use in another recipe. Two egg whites should be more than enough for two servings. [Note: the meringue doesn’t bake for long, so standard warnings about egg whites apply. If you have any concerns about eating an undercooked egg, use pasteurized eggs or buy egg white powder.]

The assembly:

  • Put the brownie base on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put one scoop of ice cream on each brownie. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (overnight is fine too).
  • After the brownies and ice cream have been in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, make the meringue. If you want to pipe the meringue like I did, put it in a pastry bag with a large star tip.
  • Move the oven rack to the lowest position and start the oven heating to 500 degrees F. Take the baking sheet out of the freezer and either pipe the meringue on or spread it on with a knife, making swirls and peaks. Be sure to cover the entire brownie and ice cream. Put the baking sheet back in the freezer until the oven is up to temperature.
    Here’s a Baked Alaska ready to go into the oven.

BakedAlaska1

  • When the oven is heated, take the baking sheet out of the freezer and put it in the oven. Stand there and watch it; it will brown quickly. When it’s browned but not burned, take it out. Serve immediately: if you want to do any fancy plating (which I didn’t!) have it queued up ahead of time. Or do what I did – I made my husband come into the kitchen just in case the Baked Alaska didn’t make it to the plate in one piece (although it did).

Enjoy! This was a fun treat to make, and if you have the brownie (or cake) and ice cream ready to go, you just have to do some last-minute meringue making and baking.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Creamy Lime Cream in Meringue Shells

August 25, 2009

This week’s selection for Tuesdays With Dorie is Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie. I changed it up a bit, so I gave it a different name: Creamy Lime Cream in Meringue Shells. I cut way down on the butter, so it’s not really the creamiest. Instead of putting the meringue on top, I put it on the bottom, so it’s not really a pie. And it turned out great!

LimeCream

What I did: This recipe is supposed to be a graham cracker crust filled with lime cream and topped with meringue, but I made some changes:

  • Cut the recipe for the lime cream in half. I reduced the butter by quite a bit: I used 4 tablespoons; the butter for half a batch of lime cream would have been 10 tablespoons. I read that other bakers had reduced the butter by quite a bit and were happy with the results.
  • I omitted the ginger, because it isn’t a popular dessert ingredient in our house.
  • Made individual meringue shells instead of a pie crust.
  • The next day, I whisked the chilled lime cream, spooned it into the shells, and topped it with a little whipped cream.

How it went: The lime cream was one of those things that make me nervous: double-boiler, eggs, thermometer. It took about 10 minutes to get it up to 180° F (OK, OK, it was really 179° but I couldn’t stand it any more!). Whisking while holding a thermometer in the bowl must be something that takes more coordination than I have, but I made it work.

I was making meringue for another recipe, so I made extra and piped some shells on a baking sheet and baked them. I put them into a 300° F oven for 10 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 200° F. I’m not sure how long they baked (at least another half hour); I just kept checking them until they seemed pretty dry. I turned off the oven, cracked the door, and left them in there overnight. Then I stored them in a plastic container for a couple of days until I needed them. They turned out very crunchy, which is what I wanted (I made meringue shells for Thanksgiving last year and they were the consistency of salt water taffy!).

How it tasted: We both liked this a lot! While I’m not a fan of soft meringue on top of a pie, I like a crunchy meringue, and this sweet crunchy shell was a great compliment to the tart and creamy lime cream. Though I haven’t tried the lime cream with the full amount of butter, I really liked it the way I made it, plus it wasn’t so guilt-inducing. It was a nice consistency and had a great lime flavor. My husband thoroughly enjoyed it and said that “lime is 1000 times better than lemon.” I hadn’t thought about it a lot, but I really do like lime quite a bit too.

Would I make this again?: Yes, now that I know that we are both so enthusiastic about lime! This would be great in a crust, but I was also really happy with it in the meringue shells.

Thank you to Linda of Tender Crumb for this great selection. She’ll have the recipe on her site, or look at page 337 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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