Showing posts with label meringues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meringues. Show all posts

Friday, April 1, 2016

Floating Islands

I woke up a couple of days ago thinking about the dessert Floating Islands. I really don’t know why. While there are few ingredients, It’s kind of a pain to make, because there are finicky parts to the recipe. It’s definitely kind of old fashioned. But for me it brings back memories.

I have no doubt told you before that my grandmother didn’t cook, except for fudge and meatloaf (why just those? I have no idea.). My mother produced tasty, healthy meals, but I don’t know how much pleasure she took in the whole process. But for some unknown reason I have a very clear memory of the two of them working together, in the kitchen of a house we rented for only a few years, to make this dish. It wasn’t a holiday meal or anything. Maybe they had some spare time or wanted to distract themselves from other things. I think my grandmother had her own memories of the dish, and while she might not have been able to make it herself, she certainly felt free to offer opinions and instructions. Me (age 11 or so), I just kept out of their way and watched.

But what made it memorable for me was that it’s kind of a playful dish: meringue islands floating in a yellow sea of custard. (Maybe that makes it appropriate for April Fools’ Day?)

Fanny Farmer said only, make custard, spoon beaten egg whites or whipped cream on top. Uh, no. These days we kind of prefer to cook our eggs. So I turned to The Joy of Cooking, where the recipe made much more sense.

Floating Island (or Snowy Eggs)

For the Islands:

3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups [whole] milk

Separate the egg whites and yolks. Set aside the yolks.

Whip the egg whites until stiff, then beat in the sugar gradually.

Scald the milk (anybody remember how to do that? I do it in the microwave, in stages. You know it’s scalded when a thin skin forms on top. Discard the skin before using!). 

You can just see the skin
Place in on the heat but turn it down as low as it will go. Drop tablespoons of the egg white mixture onto the top of the milk and poach gently (for about four minutes), turning once. DO NOT LET THE MILK COME TO A BOIL!

Lift out the poached meringues carefully (there’s an understatement!) with a skimmer and lay them gently on a paper towels to drain.

The sea (all right, the custard)

You will still have the yolks left over from the eggs above, right? You’ll need another quarter-cup of sugar now.

In a double boiler (you do have one of those? I have my mother’s and my grandmother’s, both now definitely vintage) put the milk you’ve already scalded (still warm) in the top pan. Slowly stir in the slightly-beaten egg yolks, whisking steadily, plus 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt.

The heirloom double boilers
Put the top pan with the egg-milk mixture over lightly boiling water in the bottom half (do not let the bottom of the top pot come into contact with the water or you’ll get scrambled eggs). Stir the mixture constantly until it begins to thicken, which may take a while, then remove from the heat and let cool. Beat it occasionally to keep in smooth.

If you want, you can add vanilla, rum, or grated lemon rind for flavor now. Then pour the custard into a pretty serving dish (this will be a thin layer), cover loosely and place it in the refrigerator and chill thoroughly.

Assembling the dish

When the custard is cool, gently slip the meringue “islands” on top and return the dish to the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

It’s kind of an odd dish, I must say. It’s very light, and mostly liquid, but it tastes pleasant. BTW, this recipe as given made enough for four small servings—not a lot given the effort to make it. 

There's floating involved here, right? A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #4) is still floating along happily at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shall we meringue?

Okay, so the dance is merengue and
the yummy food in meringue. Still, I
think we should merengue
while we meringue. Yes?
Cool, try not to sprain anything!

For months, I have had meringues on the brain.
I blame Cleo and Krista. Since they
posted their recipes -- click their names
to be wowed -- I have been thinking
non stop about meringues as my work
in progress will attest.
(I'll meringue a cupcake yet!!!)

So I was chit chatting about my
meringue obsession with my boss Marijo,
and she told me about a pie her mother
makes that I simply had to try. Thankfully,
she was kind enough to share the recipe
(thanks, Marijo and Mom)!

Meringue Pie

4 egg whites
1 tsp vinegar
1 cup sugar

Make the meringue crust the day before
you need the pie. Beat egg whites and vinegar,
gradually adding the sugar. When peaks stiffly
form, put into a pie pan that is well greased
and floured. Fill it, making sure it is level.
Bake 45 min at 300 degrees. Take it out and
put it away for one day (I put mine in the
microwave since we weren't using it).


1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
3 tbspns sugar
1 tspn vanilla

Whip the cream adding sugar and
vanilla. Fill in the meringue crust,
which should have fallen and
conformed to the pie dish.
Garnish with toasted almonds
(I used cinnamon dusted pecan chips
because that's what I had).

OMG! This was awesome!
A perfectly light and fluffy summer

Now, I have some news.
First, the happy news:
has been picked up by a publisher
in Japan. This is very exciting for me.
I can not wait to see what the
translation will look like!
And now the sad (for me) news. I will be taking the
month of July off from Mystery Lover's Kitchen,
so that I can focus on meeting several impending
deadlines. I will miss you all very much, but here's the
great news for you: Wendy Lyn Watson has graciously
agreed to fill in for me while I'm away! I am delighted.
Wendy is a fabulous writer and says she has loads of
recipes to share. Yay! Thanks, Wendy, for stepping
in as the Wednesday gal. I know you'll have a lovely
time in the kitchen!

Happy eating and reading, everyone. I'll see you in a month!!!

And finally, do not forget that the much anticipated releases of
are coming out NEXT WEEK!!! Yippee! And if you haven't picked
up GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, do so now. It's fabulous!

Oh, and the clock is ticking if you want to enter Avery's contest:

Avery Aames is celebrating the upcoming release of The Long Quiche Goodbye.

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.

There, now I'm done...really!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Little Chocolate Clouds

This post
was named a
Number One
9" Pick

“I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee…” One of songwriter Carly Simon’s many inspired lines—and my inspiration for today’s recipe post.

With warmer weather finally making its appearance here in New York City, and the threat of sleeveless tops and shorts coming at me like a Sisyphus boulder, I knew my craving for something chocolate needed to be tempered into something light.

Then Elizabeth/Riley’s excellent spring cleaning post (click here or scroll down) started me thinking about using up my foods before they hit their dreaded expiration dates. And what was on the cusp of being ejected from my fridge? Eggs!

The result was this recipe for Little Chocolate Clouds. These simple chocolate meringues are easy to whip up and bake. They are bursting with chocolate flavor yet still light and with the added bonus of protein.

Serve these as a light, after-dinner treat or eat them as a satisfying coffee break snack. You can even float one in a hot cup of joe or espresso. It will melt right into the liquid, giving you an instant mocha drink.

My husband, Marc (a tough critic) loves these sweet, little morsels. He describes them as "little chocolate cotton candies," which pefectly captures their melt-in-your mouth appeal, especially after you soften their crunchy exteriors by dipping them into a cup of warm coffee or tea.

The only tricky technique in making this simple
recipe is whipping up the egg whites...

For a quick video tutorial on how to whip egg whites properly,
just click on the arrow in the window below.

Cleo Coyle’s Little Chocolate Clouds

Makes about 36 cookies

For a printable version
of this recipe (PDF format)



4 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to stabilize the egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
Optional decorations: chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped nuts


Step 1 – Before You Begin: First preheat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Some notes to help you get the best results here: Start with a mixing bowl that is glass, metal, or ceramic. The bowl must be free of grease for your egg whites to whip up properly. (Grease clings to plastic bowls, which is why you should not use plastic.) Also, for best results, your egg whites should be room temperature. I simply set my cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 2 to 3 minutes before cracking.

Step 2 – Whip Egg Whites: Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt into bowl. Using an electric mixer or handheld whisk, begin to whip the whites. When you see soft peaks begin to form (see "soft peaks" photo below), continue beating while slowly sprinkling in the sugar. When the egg whites have become stiff and glossy (see "stiff and glossy" photo below), stop whipping. Sift the cocoa over the egg whites and gently fold into the mix. The whites will deflate a little, but that’s okay.

Egg Whites Beaten to "Soft Peaks"

Egg Whites Beaten "Stiff and Glossy"

Sifting in the Unsweetened Cocoa

Folding in the Unsweetened Cocoa

Step 3 – Form Little Chocolate Clouds: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make rustic little chocolate clouds by dropping batter by heaping teaspoons onto the paper. As a fun option and to create variety, try sprinkling some with finely chopped nuts, others with shredded coconut, chocolate sprinkles, or a few chocolate chips.

Step 4 – Bake in the preheated (300° F.) oven for about 25 to 35 minutes. Meringues should be dry and somewhat firm on the outside (not hard just firm) and still gooey in the center. Remove from oven and carefully slide the parchment paper off the hot pan and onto a rack to cool. Note: Warm meringues will stick to the parchment paper. But as they cool, they will harden. Then you can easily lift them free and…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elegant Dessert in Minutes

One of my favorite desserts is based on meringue. It's fun, delicious, and, as my mother would say, good enough for company. The very best thing about it is that you can have it ready at a minute's notice. When relatives visited once, I was busy showing and driving them around, which left little time for cooking. Meringue nests saved the day. I pulled them out of the freezer and had a fabulous dessert in minutes. Of course, you do have to bake the meringues in advance!

Anyone who has read The Diva Runs Out of Thyme knows that baking meringues isn't a rainy day activity. Meringues need to dry out, and humid weather can make them sticky. Crisp fall days are a great time to bake them and pop them in the freezer for those busy days when you need a dessert fast!

Meringue Nests

3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease and flour a baking sheet, or (my preference) cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. If you are very precise, you can draw circles on the paper as guides, but I'm the world's worst artist and I do it freehand.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl and beat. When the eggs begin to take shape, slowly add the sugar and beat until they hold stiff peaks.

Spoon the egg white mixture into a pastry bag with a tip that has a fairly large hole. Don't have a pastry bag? Snip the corner of a plastic food storage bag and use it instead. Pipe the mixture onto the paper. I find it easiest to begin in the middle and pipe in circles until it's approximately three inches in diameter. Then, to make the nest, I pipe one more circle around the top of the outer circle. So simple! Three eggs make approximately one dozen 3 inch-ish nests. Have just a tiny bit left? Pipe a few dots to snack on!

Bake the nests for one hour or until dry and crisp, but not blond. My preference is to turn the oven off after one hour and leave them in the closed oven overnight.

One of the best features of meringue is that it freezes so beautifully. Peel them off the parchment paper and slide the nests into freezer bags. If you want to stack them within the bag, use a bit of the parchment paper (reuse the one you used to bake them) in between layers. But don't crowd them, they're fragile. Freeze until ready to use.


meringue nests
ice cream
whipped cream (optional)
frozen raspberries, thawed

Remove the requisite number of meringue nests from the freezer bag. Top each with a scoop of ice cream. (Go with your personal preference here. It's great with vanilla, coffee, and chocolate, but I can imagine it with all kinds of ice creams.) Top with a dollop of whipped cream (optional). Spoon thawed frozen raspberries and a little juice over top (you may need to add some sugar to the thawed raspberries, they have a tendency to be a little bit tart). If you're feeling very ambitious, you can make a blueberry or cherry reduction, but our family favorite has always been raspberries.