Meringues and Sunday baking

Today I woke up with the desire to bake. With the end of the summer heat, it just seemed like the perfect time to make something, anything. I was supposed to join a friend for crepes, and it felt much better to scour a dozen cookbooks for ideas than go out. Thankfully she was curious about my baking, so we rescheduled the crepes for another day and decided to stay indoors. I also had an afternoon appointment as a limiter, otherwise it would have been far more dangerous. One weekend a few years back I made fourteen dozen cookies, so I don’t mind a little restraint.
Before she arrived I tried a canister of batter blaster stuff that I had picked up the previous night to see if I could turn it into funnel cake. This was not my best decision of the morning. I decided to first try making pancakes to figure out how to use it, and it took several attempts to even get a pancake that wasn’t a hole-filled crepe. Even after I got the hang of it, both my ‘successful’ pancakes burned. Still, once I felt slightly sure I knew what I was doing, I poured some peanut oil into a pot and tried for frying. The batter dissolved into the oil, and even adding more batter just made a messy ball of mushy dough. Batter blaster has a funnel cake recipe on their site, but without frying temperature recommendations, I’m not going to try it again. Besides, I found a really tasty recipe for funnel cake using lemon zest that sounds far more appealing. It was disappointing, but I’m at least glad I gave it a shot.
So, I was on to baking from scratch. First I made a vanilla pastry cream from The Dessert Bible, as I’m out of vanilla beans at the moment. (I really need to fix that.) It was mellow, but sweet, in that way you think of filled tart shells from your childhood. I’ll have to try it again with half a bean once I order more. Then came tart shell rounds from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, baked as cookies. Once everything cooled, I topped the rounds with the custard, some fresh fruit, and a bit of melted chocolate. The extra egg whites from making the pastry cream went into nutella meringues, and some imaginative plating may or may not have happened.
The meringues used a recipe with vinegar instead of cream of tartar, which was a new experience. I don’t know if the Nutella affected baking or what, but they ended up with bubbles at the base similar to the feet on French macarons. They were ridiculously adorable, even broken up into shards. Still, everything was tasty.
One of these days I’ll have to make a tartlet dessert bar, with buttery cookies stacked in jars and little trays of toppings. I’m just usually too lazy to go that far, but I love the idea of channeling Amy Atlas. Then again, it’s just as much fun to pull some cookies off a baking sheet and tuck in.
Michael Pollan recommends only eating desserts you made yourself, but making desserts tends to also mean you have a lot of extras. Meringues went to friends, the tart crust cookies got shared, but I still ate most of the pastry cream. It’s great to share.

This entry was posted in Baking.

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