Meringues: Fun and Fancy

While I was helping out with Michael’s family when their new baby was born this summer, my two oldest grand daughters were really interested in cooking with me, and in particular, they’d tried to make meringues but couldn’t get them to turn out right. They were either burned or gooey. So, we worked together and made some that turned out just lovely! After leaving their home, Alan and I went for a three-week cruise, and meringues were part of many dessert options (like this one, called “Mixed Berries Pavlova”), so I decided they are popular with everybody these days and worth writing up.  I think the secret to success is more sugar than you’d think (to help them keep their shape) and a longer, lower baking temperature than is often prescribed to help them keep from browning or burning (or at least a lower temperature than was prescribed in the kids’ cookbook).

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meringues

Preparations:
1.  Preheat oven to 275°F
2. Grease large baking sheet with shortening and sprinkle with sifted flour or line with parchment paper
3.  Cut small opening into bottom edge of a gallon zip lock bag and insert a fluted cake-decorating tip.  Ingredients:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2. Beat until soft peaks form
3. Then, slowly add
2.75 cups granulated white sugar, beating until stiff peaks form Shaping:
You can spoon out the meringues, but I think they’re a lot prettier fluted. To flute them, carefully fill the zip lock bag with the mixture and seal. Then, shape the meringues into little 1.5″ rounds with peaks on top Baking:
The trick with baking is to cook them slowly at a low heat so that they harden but don’t turn brown. This is best achieved by popping them straight into an oven preheated to 275°F. and baking them for 2 hours, then shutting off the heat, leaving them to continue drying in the oven overnight. It would be good to check them after an hour and a half, just to make sure they aren’t browning. In the morning, carefully scrape them off the cookie sheet and store them in an airtight container. Humidity or any type of moisture can make them sticky, just like cotton candy.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103). Meringues on Celebrity Summit copy

 

 

German Apfelstrudel (aka: Some of the World’s Best Apple Strudel!)

As a child, Alan’s favorite dessert was apple pie, and even now if there’s apple pie or apple strudel available, one of us usually tries some. We’ve had apple strudel so many times we imagine we’re connoisseurs, but in all the world, we’ve never tasted apple strudel anywhere that we think is as good as our daughter-in-law Gerlinde’s (who’s from Germany and very practiced at this specialty).  Today, I’m going to do a show and tell (with two dozen photos), explaining just how to make some the world’s best apple strudel!  🙂

Authentic German Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)
(I’d say it could serve 12-24, but the 8 of us polished it all off in a day!)

50 g butter
200 g all purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
75 ml lukewarm water

Strudel dough:

Melt butter in a pot. Put flour in a bowl. Mix butter, salt, lukewarm water with a mixer. Boil water in a small pot, pout out the boiling water and dry it out completely. Then put the dough in the hot pot, close the pot with a lid and let stand for 30 minutes.

Filling:
About 1 kilograms apples (any that are good for pies, like MacIntosh or Honeycrisp)
90 grams butter
100 grams sugar
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon (about 1 teaspoon per strudel ±)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F
Prepare baking tray by lining it with parchment paper

Filling:(this will make two strudel)

Peel the apples and cut into small pieces. Melt butter.

Divide the dough in two pieces. Prepare to roll out the dough on a thin dish towel that has a pattern. (Gerlinde told me you know it’s done when you can see the pattern through the dish towel…can you see the butterfly?) Sprinkle flour on the dish cloth to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Roll out each peace of dough into a rectangular shape.                                  Spread the liquid butter on the dough.  Then add the apples on top of the butter.
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of the apples.        Close up the dough, using water to make the dough stick to the sides.    Use the dish cloth to transfer the strudel to the baking tray with the dough seam facing down on the tray.                                             After you’ve made both of the strudels,                   brush them with a mixture of one egg and a little milk. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the strudel is golden brown and you think the apples are soft.  After the strudel is baked, take out of oven and let cool, or serve warm.  You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of it. (We served it with ice cream and whipping cream, although it’s also superb by itself.)  Enjoy!  🙂

How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103).

Making Homemade Berry and Maple Syrups

What’s your very favorite breakfast? My all-time favorite breakfast out is the Cracker Barrel’s Sunrise Special with blackberry syrup. Actually, I like making my own pancake breakfast at home even better, because I put blueberries in the pancakes and make enough for one person, not one giant. Nevertheless, eating breakfast out on a rare occasion is a memorable experience, and if we’re anywhere near a Cracker Barrel, that’s where I want to eat!One morning while our grand children were visiting, my daughter-in-law Carleen taught the kids how to make baskets out of leaves pinned together with tiny twigs, and they walked down the lane collecting black raspberries and mulberries. Instead of eating them as hors d’oeuvres, they brought almost all of them home and asked me to make some syrup for their pancakes. How could I resist??

Syrup can be made with any type of berries, but here’s what we did:

Yummy Blackberry Syrup

1 quart washed blackberries (I supplemented what the children picked with some from the freezer)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
(or, the sugar and water can be replaced by 1/2 cup honey and 1 tablespoon water)

Heat in a saucepan until it starts to boil, stirring occasionally, then turn it down to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until it’s the consistency of syrup. If the berries are really juicy, and the syrup seems too thin, you can add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to help thicken it. (Whisk to help the corn starch dissolve, and then continue to whisk it until the starch thickens a bit.) Taste test it. If it lacks flavor, you can also add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, but really just the first three ingredients above should be all you need. This can also work with any other type of berries, or even cherries. If you want a “compote” rather than a syrup, just add more corn starch until you get the consistency you want. Serve it up with coffee, bacon, and eggs, and top it with some whipped cream, and you’ll have a breakfast so memorable that no one will beg to go out!  🙂

Imitation Maple Syrup

By the way, we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, and we always made our syrup from scratch: 1 cup sugar in the bottom of a pan, cover with just enough water to leave a thin layer of water over the top, boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, and add 1/2 teaspoon of maple flavoring. Serve immediately while it’s hot!  Some of my kids still prefer this to genuine maple syrup. It will crystalize within hours, so only make as much as you’re planning to use for that particular occasion.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103)