It all started 20 or so years ago with a first failed merengue (I don’t think I got as far as properly beating the egg whites to a desired consistency, let alone baking them) . I have tried again a couple of times over the years. Always failed, but never gave up! It was the picture of the Pavlova cake with whipped cream and raspberry sauce from Barefoot Contessa cook book that got me to try yet again a couple of weeks ago. We were invited to a dinner party later that day and my plan was to make and then bring my Pavlova cake to the party. I am not sure what made me think that I would succeed this time, but somehow I was confident. I whipped the egg whites, added all the ingredients, laid out the perfect “tutu” on the baking sheet, set the oven temperature according to the recipe, instructed Vit when to turn off the oven and… left the house. When I opened the over door some three hours later and saw a failed Pavlova yet again …somehow I was very surprised. (Don’t get me wrong- people at the dinner party have cleaned out their plates. Apparently, even less than perfect Pavlova with whipped cream and raspberry sauce- is still a pretty good dessert!)
Let’s just say, the more I fail, the more determined I become (plus, I REALLY love the merengues!). Pavlova had no chance but to come out nicely dried (not under or overly so) from MY oven! I then spent a good number of hours searching English and Russian recipes on line. The wide spectrum of instructions made me crazy cross-file them by “temperature” (wide ranging from 180F to 350F!), baking time (0 to 3 hours!) and “oven door closure” (open, closed, half-closed). I even mastered the merengue jargon: you just have to start differentiating between the soft and hard peaks if you really want to succeed! Armed with all this knowledge, all WE now needed (by then, I have enlisted my handy husband to my rescue mission) were the proper TOOLS. So I brought home the stand-alone super heavy impressive looking Kitchen-Aid mixer (no product endorsement intended).
It is hard to say which one of the three ingredients (research, mixer, handy husband) has done the “trick”- it is probably ALL 3- but In the course of 3 weeks we have produced about 15 batches of quite satisfying (if not perfect) merengue kisses, mini-Pavlovas, French macarons and Merengue Towers.
The culmination of our merengue affair was absolutely gorgeous and equally delicious Remains of the Estate cake we have made for the New Years Celebration from a recipe I found on the Russian cooking blog.
Still, I have to admit that despite watching numerous You Tube videos, we have made our peace with not being able to “grow a foot” on the French macarons (thus, no French macarons pictures here, although they were quite delicious even wihout the ”foot”!).
All in all, the husband and wife “merengue team” got so smoothly intertwined (he works the mixer, she works the oven) that I can confidently state: the meringues have sweetened not only our teeth but our marriage! And to make the celebration complete, the kids happened to fall in love with the “kisses”!