Monday, April 26, 2010

Rebirthing Egg Whites: Cinnamon Meringues for Lemon and Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Cinnamon meringue

When you have a cooking disability (in my case, I have multiple disabilities) there are things you can do to overcome them. For this month's Sugar High Friday (which I'm hosting) I schemed up the challenge to transform a past dessert failure into something new- even if that meant only part of a recipe. Whatever was needed to personally rise above (no baking puns intended) would be welcomed. My agenda was to expose to the world what life had been hiding from me for years:  a fear of working with egg whites--meringues in particular.



I knew if I got help, I would be more precise (no shell shards dropped into the white). I got scope creep and decided to make 2 flavors of homemade ice cream to sit INSIDE the meringues. Best of all, I did it with a little help from my friends (and her whole family).


I chose to make sweet potato ice cream, lemon ice cream and cinnamon meringues. The ice cream would sit inside the meringues--as if they were meringue ice cream cups. My friend was kind enough to lend me the Ultimate Ice Cream Recipe Book.


So here's the journey. Mother, father and 3 kids (roughly ages 4-14) arrived. We set the lemon ice cream ingredients immediately to churning in the ice cream maker they brought (they'd thought in advance to chill the maker- what a concept!). After the plate of fresh croissants and pastries distraction wore off, kid #1 and Dad begin toying with the iPad and various technology around the house. Kids #2 and #3 were beginning to make "can I help?" and "can I mix it in?" appearances in the kitchen. I was prepping sweet potato ingredients and cream to simmer together while also answering familial requests for drawing paper, scissors, tape, the network password and such.

During the experience, Dad swooped in and out of the kitchen twice: once because he had an instinct that the lemon ice cream had churned long enough. The second time was when he magically knew (and was right) that the meringues were ready for the oven- shiny, perky and like taffy in consistency.


Mom was tag teaming this whole experience, able to concentrate on kids' requests, questions and still be articulate while merging together ice cream ingredients and most importantly...the egg whites. I was mostly a meringue spectator, but I took Dad's advice on how to hold the improv pastry bag (a gallon plastic food storage bag with a hole cut in it for cake icing tips) to get good control over the egg whites and allow me to "shape" the meringues.



The oven temperature the recipe prescribed was too low. When we followed the directions they came out chewy. A bit more cooking at a higher temperature rendered crispier meringues with harder external shells. It really just depends on how you like to eat them.


I will play with meringues more confidently in the future but...I'm still not sure I like them. They are sugar and eggs- no fat. But being able to make shapes is fun. How many things can you put in the oven and then take back out to find they look exactly the way they did when you put them in? The chemistry is pretty darn cool. As for the ice cream- both were yummy, but the lemon was outstanding. We used some store-bought lemons and a few from our Meyer tree.


Top photo: cinnamon meringue with lemon ice cream and a flower garnish.


Sugar High Friday was created by Jennifer who writes the Domestic Goddess. Learn more about Sugar High Fridays.
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