The Food Network blog, called Food for Thought, has started issuing cooking assignments each month. This month, the assignment was to try a meringue recipe from French Food at Home. I haven't seen the show, but based on the title, and my experience with this recipe, I think I'll have to watch it.
Laura Calder calls her meringues crisp and chewy, and boy is she right. My seven-year-old is crazy about the meringues from a local bakery, but compared to these, the bakery ones seem dry, brittle and with a flavour resembling sawdust. The inside of the Laura Calder meringues were like marshmallows, but creamier, and the outsides were, yes, perfectly crisp.
I don't have a pastry bag, but I made my own by cutting a hole in the bottom of a Ziploc bag and working really fast. It went pretty well. My favourite meringue, which I insisted on eating myself, had a little mousetail on it.
As you can see, my meringues didn't get toasty-looking, but they were definitely ready to take out after 90 minutes.
The recipe specifies either vanilla or orange-flower water or maple extract for flavouring and I went with the orange-flower water. I never buy this, but my friend Farheen gave me half a bottle when she was moving once. She uses it, among other things, in her Eid shortbread. After she gave it to me, it didn't see the light of day for a couple of years, until I made the meringues.
I was the only one who wasn't crazy about the orange-flower flavour. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was eating a cookie that I had spilled some perfume on. However, my spouse, my daughter and her friends all loved the orange-floweriness. So maybe I was just overly sensitive to it because I was the one who actually put the stuff in.
The biggest fans of these were the three seven-year-old girls, who gobbled down the whole bunch for dessert last Friday night in record time. I even managed to get some cauliflower in them beforehand, using the promise of meringues as a reward.
I'm going to try them with the maple extract next.