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Saturday, April 18, 2009

To Meringue, or Not to Meringue?

There is something both confusing and amusing about Meringues.  After a series of internal debates, I have concluded that I do indeed like Meringues, despite the fact that I don’t actually enjoy the flavor of the puffy little sugar bombs.   Sounds strange I know, but I’ve got my reasons for liking them…

First of all, the very appearance of a Meringue is just so darn charming.  They remind me of soft fluffy clouds and whimsy. Another reason I like Meringues is that eating them makes me laugh, which I think has something to do with the texture…they are crunchy and melty and amusingly lightweight.  I figure that these Meringue- attributes, along with the fact that meringues are often served with whipped cream and fruit (two things I adore), are enough for me to give them my seal of sweet approval.

I have eaten my fair share of Meringues, but I’d never actually attempted to make them (likely due to my questionable feelings towards them), until Wednesday’s Pasty Class.  I was given a specific Meringue duty…to create a  Pavlova, which is a type of baked meringue that is supposedly named after a Russian dancer.  The Pavlova I made had a dipped-in center, perfect for filling with a lovely cream, which in this case was a Honey- Lavender Whipped Cream.  The recipe also included topping the puffy, creamy dessert with Poached Strawberries. 

When I read the recipe, a level of difficulty was seemingly inherent (ingredients like lavender make me wary).  However, I discovered that Pavlovas are actually pretty easy to make….especially if you have a Kitchenaid mixer.  A Pavlova basically entails whipping egg whites, sugar and a bit of cream of tartar together until the mixture turns into a large, opaque white mass resembling Kirby (Kirby is the star of the only video game I’ve ever been addicted to…and basically looks like a huge marshmallow).

The Honey-Lavender whipped cream called for in the recipe slightly concerned me.  I don’t tend to enjoy eating lavender (although I have been pleasantly surprised by it in the past).  Oh yeah, and then there was the fact that I had to use a spice grinder that smelled like a giant curry pot to incorporate the lavender into the sugar…how lovely (apparently someone had last used it to grind cumin, and the cumin would not leave despite multiple cleaning efforts).  Fortunately, the musky cumin odor somehow disappeared, and lavender sugar was born…and was pleasantly floral, and only faintly sweet (which is good since it was paired with the uber-sweet Pavlova).

Before I go into the madness that is poaching strawberries, I have to explain one thing…or at least TRY to explain it.  For some odd reason, I consider fruits as being in one of two categories.  Category One is “Everyday Fruits,” and includes fruits that I can get every day, and easily…like bananas and apples.  The Second Category is “Special-Time Fruits,” and includes fruits that are more seasonal or expensive…like strawberries and blackberries.  I can deal with a mealy apple once in awhile, but I get really angry when I eat a “Special-Time Fruit” that isn’t really, really delicious.

That said, I am pissed off at poached strawberries, and have no plans to ever again poach them.  First of all, poaching strawberries drains them of their beautiful brightness , and makes them look muted and almost sickly.  Their taste is also muted…and develops a strange herbal quality, almost as if the berries had been steeped in tea or something.  After poaching the Strawberries, I felt slightly depressed for them.

When it came to plating my Pavlova, I decided against using the mushy, poached strawberry corpses and opted for fresh strawberries instead…which I cut into little hearts (I figured it was only appropriate that these berries were mourning for their sad, mushy brethren).

After all is said and done, I think I’ll continue my confused relationship with the meringue.


1 comment:

pattyp said...

haha good for you for liking meringues...I am not quite there yet!