Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From Paris Sweets: Meringues Chantilly

Meringues Chantilly
Cloud-like meringues stacked in pâtisserie windows have never failed to enchant me, and they are all the more beguiling in flavored tints of strawberry or pistachio.

But despite my best efforts at neatness, sweet little shards would flutter away to my clothing and usually also to the hotel room bedding.

A well made meringue is a tiny bit chewy and crisp before its airy sweetness melts away on the tongue. All of that loveliness from egg whites and sugar.

The whipped cream-filled meringues in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets are based on a recipe from Patisserie Mulot. Two oval meringues are sandwiched with vanilla scented sweetened whipped cream.

These were fun to make and challenging to photograph. So much depends on presentation. I am certain that mine are considerably more rustic than they should be. Of course, if I had been making meringues every day for 30 years (as has Mssr. Gérard Mulot), then mine might begin to take on some degree of refinement.

As the season for local strawberries approaches, consider making these little meringues filled with both chantilly and bright red berries or with a homemade strawberry ice cream.

Meringues Chantilly
from Paris Sweets based on a recipe from Pâtisserie Mulot

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1 c confectioners’s sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting

2 c chilled whipping cream (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Make the Meringues
Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put a 1/2 inch piping tip on a large pastry bag.

Beat the egg whites at medium low speed. When they thicken, increase speed to high. Add granulated sugar when the egg whites start to form peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the powdered sugar being careful not to deflate the mixture. (I added the powdered sugar using a sieve.)

Put the meringue into the pastry bag and pipe out 12 plump ovals, each about 3 in. long by 2 in. wide and 1/2 in. high. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar and let them rest for about 10 minutes until the sugar begins to form little beads.

Put the baking sheet into the oven, using the handle of a wooden spoon to keep the door ajar. Bake for 2 hours, until they are lightly caramel colored. Turn off the heat, close the door, and allow the meringues to dry in the oven for 4 hours or overnight. Transfer the meringues and their parchment to a rack to cool to room temperature. When completely cool, use a thin knife or spatula to separate the meringues from the paper. (These can be made up to 5 days ahead. Keep them covered, cool and dry.)

Make the Chantilly
Get the pastry bag ready by fitting with a 1/2 in. open star tip. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the mixer bowl into the freezer for half an hour if you have time.

Whip the cream and vanilla extract at medium speed. When soft peaks form, add the confectioners’ sugar. Increase speed to high and whip until it holds firm peaks.

Spoon the whipped cream into the pastry bags and pipe a twist onto the flat side of one meringue. Place a second meringue's flat side to this one. Place the sandwich on its side onto the baking sheet. Pipe another twist of cream down the center of the pastry. Continue finishing the other meringues. Chill until ready to be eaten.

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