Welcome, Virtual Advent Tourists and regular readers alike! A couple of days back, I told you about some super-awesome caramel sauce. Today, I'd like to share one of the many, many recipes with which you can eat the stuff.
My mother is hosting Christmas dinner this year, and I plan to contribute an EPIC DESSERT BUFFET (caps necessary). I quickly made (and froze) all the usual suspects: shortbread, spice cookies, gingerbread, and toffee; however, I found myself in need of more gluten free options. My aunt eats GF, and I want to make sure she can scarf down just as much dessert as everyone else.
To that end, I turned to my culinary nemesis: meringues.
My previous meringue recipe was a right bastard, to put it mildly. Sometimes, it produced snowy white domes of crispy magnificence; others, it burned. Argh! Thankfully, I've since discovered this gem in the pages of NIGELLA KITCHEN, Nigella Lawson's 2010 cookbook release. The meringues are not only delicious but spectacularly unfiddly and forgiving.
This is especially true if you stuff them with freshly whipped cream and drizzle super-awesome caramel sauce over the finished product. The caramel reinforces the coffee flavour, while the cream cuts some of the sweetness and mingles perfectly with the meringue's goopy centre.
The result is heaven on a plate, and the perfect dessert for a holiday dinner.
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
a pinch of cream of tartar
4 egg whites
whipped cream, either freshly made or from a squirty can
one recipe super-awesome caramel sauce
Preheat your oven to 275ºF or 135ºC.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugars, the coffee powder, and the cream of tartar. Set aside.
Plunk the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk, preferably with a mixer, until soft peaks begin to form. Add the sugar mixture a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while, until the meringue achieves stiff peaks.
Line a baking sheet or two with wax paper or parchment and spoon the meringue onto it in large dollops. I used a heaping soup spoon full for each meringue, and I ended up with twelve over two baking sheets. Nigella says the recipe produces 8-10 meringues, so I imagine she makes hers a little larger than I do. If you follow her example, they should fit on one baking sheet.
Bake the meringues for about 45 minutes. Remove them from the oven, but leave them on the baking sheet(s) to cool completely. Once they're cool, you can either get down to serving them or you can tuck them away in an airtight container. They can be made one day ahead.
When you're ready to assembly the meringues, place each one on an individual plate and break a hole in the top of each dome. Don't worry if the crust breaks apart; the whipped cream you're about to stuff into the cavity makes an excellent glue. Top with a dollop more whipped cream, drizzle with caramel sauce, and serve.