Meringue Shells for Everyday Sparkle
Reasoning that if you make creme brulee (egg yolks), you might as well whip up a batch of meringue shells – and if you’ve already made creme brulee – it’s time for something chocolate – and if you want to provide a gloss of credibility and nutrition to what your doing – throw in a couple of blueberries, blackberries or raspberries – well, then, it’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart says.
I’ve made meringue shells before – but was having little success this last month, so I called one of my aunts. “You’d think I’d have mastered this before I was 50,” I laughed.
“I don’t think I made them till I was 50,” she said.
A friend said they were intimidating – maybe by the time your 50 you just throw intimidating thoughts to the wind and say, “what the heck – I’m going to try it regardless the outcome.” Maybe that is the beauty of 50.
Not a time for black. Not a time of reduced mobility. Not a time where you’d better have all the trophies on the mantle or shoved into the back of a drawer – but a time to ride rough shod over the intimidating things.
Either make your creme brulee first (or put the eggs in the fridge until tomorrow) – I’m all about splitting up tasks to reduce schedule pressure.
I always use the same amount of egg whites that’s in a creme brulee recipe. You can store leftover meringue shells in an air-tight container or ziplock bag in the freezer and pull out as needed
as needed – there’s the potential for a lot of beauty, hospitality, sweet summer evening moments in as needed. Who said meringue shells were for little old ladies at Tuesday bridge parties – I’ve used them for my oldest boy’s surpise 16 birthday party – an easy to make pie shell filled with chocolate or lemon curd.
Or for Big Dinner on Sundays – when all you want is for big dinner to be sweet and easy so you can savor each smile, each voice – each body filling plates in their mama’s house.
Or weekday evenings that are too often treated like something that has to be endured or are too common – even weekday evenings deserve a little sparkle, a little sweetness.
Or even 4th of July picnics
Sweeten up your moments so as needed has a sprinkle of special.
My Aunt, the one everyone says I’m most like – I think it’s because we’re fiesty, have a little fight in us – she admonished, “Never make on a rainy day.” You don’t want to significant moisture in the air.
Creme Brulee calls for 10 egg yolks, so this recipe can be adjusted by to match use those whites – just multiply.
This is a leisurely recipe – like a walk is better enjoyed slow, giving you a chance to smell the honey suckle or chocolate mint along the path – so just settle in and enjoy the process. If you’re like me, it will give you a little time for your thoughts to just wander around.
Take your separated egg whites and let sit at room temperature for an hour. (Set them out before supper – they’ll be ready after dinner when you won’t need the stove anymore).
With a high speed mixer, beat until egg whites hold their shape – add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon creme of tartar (or 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar).
At low speed, add 1 cup of white sugar one tablespoon at a time every 2 minutes.
Sometimes, good things take time – like 2 minutes for one table spoon 16 times – 32 minutes.
Using an icing bag with a star point (or using a spoon and creating an indention in the middle) – form your shells on parchment paper. While the traditional meringue shells are about 3-inch in diameter – silver-dollar sizes are ideal to serve groups that are portion conscious.
Bake at 175 degrees for 2 to 3 hours until crispy but not brown. If not crispy, turn the oven off and let sit for an hour. Some of my aunts recommend just turning the oven off and let sit overnight.
While the meringues bake, stir up your chocolate ganache – it works well on cupcakes, injected into a cupcake, in a puff pastry (see here) – and, well, just by the spoonful:
14 ounces chocolate (I use Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips – one 12 ounce bag + 2 ounces from another)
2/3 cup cream (I use half and half, but heavy cream would definitely bump it up – You know how Paula Dean is about butter – well I’m that way about heavy whipping cream)
Warm in a pan until melted.
When ready to serve – fill the bottom of the meringue with chocolate ganache
Top with blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
Sprinkle with sugar pearls and sugar crystals.
Start out with 3 egg whites.
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