Friday, December 12, 2008

Chocolate Meringues

I was looking for a treat to bring to lunch with friends, and came across this recipe for chocolate meringues in my Dorie Greenspan baking book. This worked out perfectly, as I had just amassed 4 or 5 egg whites from making pastry cream over the weekend. The meringues came out GREAT. They were chocolately but so light. A wonderful treat!

Chocolate Meringues

1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds (I omitted)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used 1/2 cup to make up for loss of almonds)
4 large eggs whites, at room temperature (I may have used 5, I forgot how many I had!)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter (I added this to help stabilize the egg whites)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or finely chopped store-bought chocolate chips

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Sift the powdered sugar, ground almonds and cocoa.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large dry bowl (make sure the bowl is impeccably clean and dry), whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the egg whites are opaque (if using, add cream of tarter when egg whites are just getting frothy with large bubbles, like sea foam). Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip as you add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time. Then whip until the whites are firm and hold stiff peaks - they should still be very shiny. Beat in the vanilla, and remove the bowl from the mixer. With a larger rubber spatula, quickly but gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the chopped chocolate. The whites will inevitably deflate as you fold in the dry ingredients, just try to work rapidly and use a light touch, so you deflate them as little as possible.

Drop the meringue by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between mounds. Dust the tops of the meringues very lightly with powdered sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200°F and bake for 1 hour more. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the meringues to stand in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until they reach room temperature. Carefully peel the meringues off the parchment or silicone lining. Store in an airtight tin or uncovered in a basket at room temperature.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BB: Coq au vin

This week's recipe for Barefoot Bloggers is coq au vin. I have been dying to make this, so I was excited for it. But then the holidays got the best of me and I got lazy and just threw it in the crockpot instead of making it the real way. This is my least favorite so far, I really couldn't get behind it. I'm hoping it's just because of the crockpot thing, so I'll see how everyone else faired and maybe try again when I have more time/patience.

Coq Au Vin
Back to Basics on page 116
Chosen by Bethany of this little piggy went to market

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
  • 1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
  • 1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.