My Mom has the greatest collection of cookbooks, a glorious bookcase full, collected over the years with most of the pages leafed and all of them well-read and well-loved. More often than not, though, she creates meals from her own mind with what sounds good or looks good that day. My brother Mikey told me the last time we were visiting that I couldn't be the one to make his delicious salsa because I never follow recipes and would change his. I laughed outloud because he's right! I like to think that I take after my Mama. It's so much more fun creating my own.
Not in this case, though. I love reading cookbooks, especially the ones filled with beautiful photos and good stories that read alongside the recipes like a novel. I recently bought Mimi Thorisson's cookbook, A Kitchen in France, and read the whole thing in one sitting before bed while Cam patiently waited for me to turn off the light, because I couldn't get enough of the beautiful images, interesting recipes and glimpses into their rural French life with seven children around their table, a bunch of doggies and all kinds of local characters. This is a recipe from her beautiful book and blog, and while my meringues didn't turn out anywhere as pretty as hers (I also didn't have cocoa powder on hand so I missed out on the swirls!), and were hilariously more messy, they tasted absolutely delicious!
Do you love meringues, too? They have just the right amount of crunch on the outside and are pillowy soft on the inside. They make me think of macarons, which are one of my favorite treats. Merci, Mimi, for the incredibly yummy recipes and inspiration!
Meringues with Chocolate Sauce and Creme Chantilly from Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France (makes about 6)
6 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tbs cornstarch (I use maïzana)
2 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
A pinch of fine salt
1 2/3 C caster sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 140° C, 275 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large glass bowl, whisk the egg whites (I use a pair of electric whisks) and salt on a high-speed until frothy – try to keep the whisk position as horizontal as possible. Add the cornflour and sugar (1-2 tbsp at a time) gradually and continue whisking. You should add the sugar in small quantities until the end of the process. When the egg whites form stiff peaks (this usually takes about 10-15 minutes), gently fold in the cocoa powder. You should create nice swirls in the egg whites. With the help of two large slotted spoons, spoon the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking tray. The meringues should be about 10-12 cm large and 6 cm high. ‘Twirl’ your spoon around and finish off with a spiky peak. Finally ‘dust’ some cocoa powder on top of each meringue and use a small fork to gently draw a few more swirls. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, switch off the oven, and leave them to cool inside the oven with the door slightly open for 15 minutes.
To serve the meringues, whip the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. (I added in a lemon worth of juice) Put the meringues on serving plates, scoop some whipped cream next to each one, and drizzle with the chocolate sauce.
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder
6 1/2 tbs water
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbs golden syrup (or corn syrup)
1 ounce dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Mix the cocoa powder, water, sugar, golden syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Remove from heat and add dark chocolate pieces. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Set aside at room temperature for an hour before serving.