Monday, April 20, 2009

Does This Meringue a Bell?

Now that life -- well, at least in my little world -- is beginning to settle again, I find myself compelled a little more frequently to wend my way into the kitchen and to prepare something real.

This past week I've tested my new oven with homemade broccoli pizza, roasted garlicky brussels sprouts, and even a small pan of luscious brownies. Suffice it to say, I'm pleased with how well the oven handles, and pretty soon I'll be ready to take it through some more hard-core baking paces.

Until then, though, I'll settle for occasionally baking something sweet, based on a new recipe.

You might want to read that line again. Yes, after a ridiculously long time (or at least so it seems), I've pulled out a brand spankin' new recipe and -- true to form -- tweaked it from the get-go.

Some time ago, I had borrowed a copy of The Essence of Chocolate (written by the fellows who started Scharffen Berger chocolate) and copied down a number of enticing recipes. And though I'm out of chocolate at the moment, I thought I might be able to make a lovely variation on the Brown Sugar Meringue Bars recipe from the book.

I mixed together the shortbread-like base, using local spelt flour, sort-of-local maple sugar, local unsalted butter, local egg yolk, and a handful of chopped local hicans (to replace the chocolate chips). Between the moisture-absorbing spelt flour and the general lack of liquid, though, the base ended up being a bit crumbly, so I had to press it into the pan.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together a local egg white with some brown sugar, whipping it into a froth and then spreading it over the cookie bar base.

After half an hour in the oven, the toasty brown sugar fragrance lured me into the kitchen to discover that the foamy meringue topping had crisped into a light-as-air, melt-in-your-mouth cloud covering the buttery base.

I managed to wait until the pan of bars had cooled, but then I finally gave in and cut a corner for my dessert. You'll note that it ended up very crumbly, but it tasted so very good -- rich buttery maple nut goodness -- that I didn't really care. I do, however, think that next time I might try using maple syrup instead of maple sugar and/or melting the butter before mixing the ingredients together, just to see if that holds the cookie base together better.

As for the rest of the pan, I'm saving those for tomorrow night, when our Local Roots marketing team gets together for another potluck dinner and hands out really classy looking brochures for our upcoming community meeting. (Other groups can't possibly have as much fun working as we do!)

And you'll be sure to hear more about this recipe in future.

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At 4/21/2009 11:02 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I noticed you're reading "The Ethical Gourmet." I just happened to pick up a copy of it at the library yesterday.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it. Maybe in a future post...?

BTW, I love playing with meringue. And, I just found a source for local eggs until my own chicks begin laying.

At 4/22/2009 7:13 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Sarah, I finished it yesterday and doubt I'll do a full-blown review as I raced through it pretty quickly. I think it covers a lot of important points about eating ethically, but it also makes some points I would seriously question (like accepting the PR for GMOs). Of course, the book was published in 2006 and more information has come out since then, so I have the benefit of that. :)

I think that someone new to the idea of eating ethically, it would be a valuable resource -- as long as it was a stepping stone to learning more.

I haven't fussed with meringue in years, but it seemed a good way to use the last of the eggs I got from the Lady Bountiful. I'll be excited to hear more about your chickens as they grow!


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