Saturday, December 29, 2012

Meringues Francaises - French Meringues

We don't go back to France for the Holiday season. It's too expensive and too exhausting to cross the Atlantic (flight +6 hours jetlag) and spend most of our time either driving or eating and not necesseraly being lucky with the weather to enjoy time outside. As we say, we need an extra week off after we come back to recover! This is why we'd rather go back in the summer when we have more time, the weather is (generally) nice and we don't spend the whole time eating!
This year, we were lucky to have my parents come and spend Christmas with us. We were all very excited and took advantage of their presence to have a formal, albeit early, Réveillon on Christmas Eve and formal Christmas lunch on Christmas day (with a nice breakfast with viennoiseries in between!)  And since it is very French to share eachother's Holidays menus, here are ours. On Christmas Eve we had a soupe a l'oignon, escargots, fresh oysters, smoked salmon, and a tarte tatin. On Christmas Day, we ate a nice orange-cumin salad, a stuffed capon with chestnuts and apples and a Charlotte aux fruits rouges. I can't remember what wines we drank; and yes, you can add a few munchies for the apéritifs (on both days) as well as sweets (mostly chocolates) for additional (!) sweetness. I thought about making meringues but since my husband had made some chocolates, I decided against it. I might make some for New Year's Eve.

Meringues are a typical French petit four (ie, a small piece of dessert served after a nice meal or with coffee) and unlike some other petits fours, they are really easy to make. They look intimidating but honnestly, the only thing I don't like about meringues is that they need to bake for about one hour in the oven. Unlike chouquettes or savory gougères, I don't make meringues often. I have never been a big fan of meringues, which I find extremely sweet and nothing to write home about.  My children (and husband) really like them; they have some everytime we get together with my relatives in France. My sister-in-law makes very good meringues and always makes a few batches for us to eat with coffee ; although our children are not drinking coffee yet, they are entitled to the small treat we, adults, eat with our espressos (most often a piece (or two) of dark chocolate; once in a while, when available, meringues.) Un petit plaisir... Bon Appetit!

For about 20 meringues :
  • 2 egg whites
  • 125g (4.4oz) sugar (or about 50g (1.76oz)/egg white)
  • 2 drops of lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • In order to maximize your chances of success, it is best to leave the egg whites rest for an hour (covered by a kitchen cloth) on the kitchen counter. 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200F (100C)
  • Put the egg whites and the salt in a bowl
  • With an electric batter, start to beat the eggwhites until they become a little bit foamy.
  • Add the lemon drops
  • Steadily add the sugar while beating the egg whites
  • Beat until the egg whites are "firm", ie they don't drop from your batter anymore.
  • With a spoon (or a poche a douille),place each meringue on a baking sheet covered with parchmin paper.
  • Bake in the oven for about one hour; every 20mns, open the oven to let some steam out. 
  • The meringues are ready when you can easily peel them from the baking sheet.
  • Turn off the oven, open the door and let the meringues cool in the oven until it is cold.

My Personal comments
  • Don't use a silpat; the meringues don"t cook well on a silicone mat.

1 comment:

  1. I can eat meringues till the dawn and will never be fulfilled, french food and deserts are very delicious and kind of light.