praise cheeses, january is dunzo.
january culminated in a tantrum of the dirty dishes kind. (you know, the kind where you yell no i am not freaking out in such a way that makes it obvious to everybody that, yes, you are freaking out.) i suppose that is the nature of living without roommates to blame your dishes on. my gosh, i hate dishes so much.
but i am just so glad that the monday of months is over and we can now really get into valentine's day, spring break planning, and the idea that maybe mayyyybe it will start to warm up kind of soon-ish-ish. ish...
we took our christmas tree down.
there's a pile of string lights sitting on the floor in the corner of our living room, still connected to the outlet. it's as if our tree just vanished, alex mac style, and left all of its lights. it's running around naked somewhere. at least the corner is still lit up and happy.
i am celebrating february with meringues!
if i had one dollar for every time that i tried to make meringues and failed, i would be able to fly you and your entire family to sochi to watch jason brown and his ponytail lose himself on the ice. i have tried every recipe, i have winced at recipes that tell you to bake them overnight, i have watched too many egg whites deflate. oy. the meringue.
when i was in london two summers ago, all of the bakeries had piles of massive meringues, flaunting themselves in the window. so fluffy, so jolly. i figured they couldn't be that difficult to make, but at their big softball size, my otherwise go-to recipe cracked and was just too brittle. then recently, at the beginning of my ottolenghi obsession, i found his recipe, which uses a method i've never done before. it calls for heating the sugar before adding it to the egg whites and then beating the whites for way longer than i normally do. the result is a super sturdy mixture that will allow you to make a bigass meringue cookie that'll bake in two hours and leave you with a yummy delight that is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
fact: this is my favorite meringue recipe.
here, i have halved ottolenghi's recipe (the original calls for 10 (!!) egg whites) and made a few additions to make them almondy in all sorts of ways. this size recipe makes about 8-12 large meringues.
1 1/2 c white sugar
5 egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c crushed toasted almonds
cute marzipan hearts
a few pinches of kosher salt, optional
preheat oven to 400ºf. distribute the sugar in an even layer onto a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. while sugar is baking, crack your egg whites into a stand mixer. i like doing this one egg at a time in a separate small bowl, in case i break a yolk. even the tiniest bit of yolk will prevent whites from getting fluffy.
once the sugar has been in the oven for 7 minutes, begin beating the whites on high. after a minute they should be foamy. with the mixer still running, gradually sprinkle in the warm sugar. once all of it has been added, add the extracts. beat on high for 10 minutes, until the meringue is cold.
reduce the oven to 225ºf.
prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment. place the toasted almonds on a plate. using a large ice cream scoop or two large spoons, scoop up a big dollop of meringue and place it on the plate of almonds so that they stick to the bottom. use a spatula to carefully transfer it to the baking sheet. decorate with marzipan and, if desired, sprinkle on a tiny bit of salt.
bake for two hours, until the outsides are crunchy and the insides are still slightly soft.
and then check out this cool chart with ways to use up egg yolks.
the meringues will keep for a few days at room temperature.