This is a story about how meringues almost defeated me in the kitchen… I thought this Daring Bakers Challenge would be an easy one. I’ve made meringues before successfully, but for some reason this time these chocolate meringues deflated on me. I tried three times with no success (see pic of flat chocolate meringue below: 2 flat meringue discs sandwiching the mascarpone chocolate mousse). Why did the meringues turn flat? Overbeating? Humidity? Oven Temperature? All confidence gone, and sure that my baking mojo had left me, I sat there looking at the sad deflated meringues. I didn’t know what to do! I couldn’t reach out for help on twitter because we are supposed to keep the challenge a secret until the posting date. I finally decided to try one more time. I would not be defeated by meringues!
On the fourth time, I decided to make a plain meringue flavored with coffee extract instead. I wondered if I would fail a fourth time. The only thing preventing me from peeking inside the oven while the meringues baked was fear that the change in temperature caused by me opening the oven door would deflate the meringues. I hesitantly opened the oven door after the baking time was up, this time the meringues held their shape and volume! I started singing “We are the Champions” by Queen… But, the meringues were far from perfect. I usually make meringues with superfine sugar because it dissolves better. This time I used regular granulated sugar because I didn’t have any superfine sugar on hand and after three failed recipes I did not feel like running it through the food processor to make it finer. The coffee meringues ended up with a ring of sugar beads, which I attribute to un-dissolved sugar. They didn’t turn out perfect but at least they did not deflate!
I was so happy once I started to assemble the dessert: piped mousse on top of the meringues, garnished with shaved white chocolate, drizzled with crème anglaise, and crumbled the flat chocolate meringues and scattered these on top. I took leftover components to work and assembled them right before serving. My co-workers were delighted! The chocolate mousse is rich and decadent and the creme anglaise makes for a perfect sauce.
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
¼ cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form.
3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white.
4. Fill a pastry bag that has been fitted with a large pastry tip with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
5. Bake for 1-2 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. This will depend on the size of your meringue. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
4 egg whites
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼-½ teaspoon coffee extract (to taste)
1. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add in the superfine sugar one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating for about 10 minutes until the mixture is smooth and shiny and holds firm peaks. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Stir in the coffee extract.
2. Shape the meringues as desired on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Baked in a pre-heated 225F° oven for 1 hour and 15m for small meringues, and 1 hour and 30 minutes for larger meringues.
3. Turn off oven and let meringues cool inside the oven for 1 hour.
Recipe for coffee meringues is from Eggs by Michel Roux
Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
1 ½ cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1 lemon
9 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups mascarpone, at room temperature
2 tbsp Kahlua
1. Put ½ cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat until it barely starts simmering.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the warm cream over it, whisk until melted and smooth. Let the mixture sit at room temperature until cool.
3. Place the mascarpone in a bowl and whip on low until the mascarpone softens. Slowly add the cream, and then the Kahlua. Whip until mixture comes together.
4. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated.
5. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and pipe over the meringues. If you make the mousse in advance and refrigerate it allow enough time for it to come to room temperature before piping.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon coffee extract
1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. .
3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon.
4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the coffee extract. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Pipe the mousse on the meringues and drizzle with crème anglaise. Garnish with shaved white chocolate and the crushed deflated meringues.