Yesterday I was really in the mood to create in the kitchen. Part of it was I’ve been watching cooking shows this week plus we went to see Hundred Foot Journey this past weekend. What a great movie! Our son really wanted to see it and I’m so glad he suggested it. Aside from the fact Helen Mirren is a fabulous actress the scenery and food was just glorious.
I wanted to make a special dessert for my husband just because. A get us through Wednesday treat. This called for more than Bird’s custard, it was time for crème pâtissière. And because I love meringue this had to be the other main component.
I was faced with the whole hot dog/bun dilemma. You know how they put 12 hot dogs in a package and 8 buns in a package so you are doomed to never match it up? The meringue recipe calls for 3 egg whites and the crème pâtissière calls for 5 egg yolks. Sigh.
For the meringue you will need:
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of cream of tartar
3/4 cup white sugar
In an electric mixer with a whisk start beating the egg whites.
On medium speed add the vanilla and cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks form. Then gradually add the sugar while beating on high until the meringue forms and is stiff.
Because I was making nests I spooned in the meringue into a pastry bag with a star tip and piped it onto parchment paper in the shape of nests. I do recommend working quickly so the meringue stays firm.
Bake at 275F/135C for 45 minutes then turn off the oven. Leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for an hour before removing.
I turned to Julia Child for the crème pâtissière and you will need:
1 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
2 cups boiling milk (careful you don’t scald it)
1 1/2 T vanilla extract
Place the yolks into the mixer with the whisk and beat on medium.
Gradually add the sugar as you beat the yolks. The colour will be pale yellow and once the sugar is added continue to beat 2-3 minutes. What you are looking for is it to “form the ribbon” This happens when the eggs lose the granular texture. This bit is tricky as if you beat to long it will turn back to being granular.
Then beat in the flour.
Once the flour is incorporated carefully and slowly add the boiling milk in a thin stream to the egg mixture while you are beating at medium speed.
Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. This is where the the elbow grease comes in. You need to keep whisking as it comes to a boil. It will get lumpy then it smooths out as it boils. It will be really thick.
Once it comes to a boil cook it for 2-3 minutes so the flour is cooked. Then remove from the heat and add the butter.
Blend it in and then cover the pot until ready to use. You can refrigerate it or freeze it if you aren’t using it right away.
I found some Ghirardelli semi-dark chocolate that I thought would be a nice flavour for this dessert.
I melted it and added a few pinches of sea salt. To assemble fill the nests with the crème pâtissière and top with fresh raspberries. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and add fresh mint leaves.
I was very pleased with how this came out. It was a great way to get through a Wednesday!