Raspberry Meringue Nests Ooh La La

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.

Because I needed a smaller recipe for the meringue then I usually use for the pavlova I found this recipe to use.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

1T butter

1 1/2 T vanilla extract

Place the yolks into the mixer with the whisk and beat on medium.

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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.

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Then beat in the flour.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I was very pleased with how this came out.  It was a great way to get through a Wednesday!

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Jarlsberg and Chive Souffle

Cheese souffle is one of those dishes that is considered difficult enough to use as tests on cooking competitions.  Contestants dread them.  So I thought it was high time to try one.  And I stressed through it enough that my husband thought I was being a bit nutty.  🙂  The result is that it is time consuming but not overly difficult.

I found a recipe on epicurious.com for this and used Jarlsberg and some garlic chives that are just starting to come up on our garden.  Easy to follow but why does it have to be another recipe that uses 4 egg yolks but 5 egg whites?  Tiny pet peeve of mine.  The first part of the recipe through adding the egg yolks can be made a few hours ahead of time if need be.  Helpful when the dogs need to be walked.  🙂

It called for 1 1/2 quart dish, which I used, but I think in the end it was too big so next time I’ll try something a bit smaller.  Butter the dish and then coat with finely grated parmesan cheese.  A tip from Alton Brown is to freeze this for about 5 minutes to set it.

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To start warm a cup of milk in a small sauce pan.  Warm it to steaming but not boiling.  Their recipe called for whole milk but we used 2% and it was fine.  Also all we had.  In a larger sauce pan melt 2 1/2 T butter.

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Once the butter is melted add 3T of flour and whisk it all together.  Cook this roux until it isn’t raw anymore.  Don’t brown it.  Mine turned beige but it was ok.

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Remove from the heat for about a minute then whisk in the warmed milk.  Whisk until it is blended.

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Put it back on the stove and reheat on low to medium while whisking the mixture.  You want to keep stirring until it thickens.  This will take a few minutes.  And when it thickens it happens quickly.

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Remove from the heat once again.  Add 1/2 tsp of paprika and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Just a sprinkle of nutmeg then blend it all together.

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Add one egg yolk at a time and blend well each time.  Again this calls for 4 egg yolks.

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Set this aside to come to room temperature.  Then coarsely grate a cup of Jarlsberg.  Like brown sugar this should be a tightly packed cup.  And chop the chives.

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When you are ready to do the second part of the souffle pre-heat the oven to 400F/204C.  I did it on convection but I don’t recommend it as it browned the top well but the very centre of the souffle was a bit undercooked.  So next time I will do it regular to the browning and the centre will finish together.

Take 5 egg whites and use a mixer to whip them until “stiff but not dry” according to the recipe I was following.

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Take a 1/4 of the egg whites and gently fold into the souffle mixture that has cooled.  For these final steps you don’t want a heavy hand.

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Gradually add the cheese, chives, and the egg whites gently folding as you go.  You want a light airy mixture.

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Pour it into the dish and place it into the oven.  Turn the temp down to 375F/190C.  Set the timer for 25 minutes.  As the recipe states “Do not open the door for at least 20 minutes!”  That is really hard for me not to do!  🙂  When it is golden brown remove from the oven.

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Again I would use a smaller dish for this.  Also as I did it in convection I removed it a few minutes before the 25 minutes was up so the centre was just undercooked a bit.  This recipe served 4 of us and we served with salad.

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It was a delicious light meal.