Pistachio & Chocolate Meringues

We are on a real journey this year.  2012 has battered our defenses, faced us up against the toughest giants and thrown our order into chaos. I have found myself this past weekend thinking a lot about the nature of giants as we square off and brace ourselves for the next one; Dear Husband is due to have an operation next week to correct a crushed disk in his neck.  Sigh.

Starting this blog for instance began as and continues to be, a struggle against a giant of fear and self-doubt. There are literally hundreds of blogs out there.  And of these, many, many share on food, recipes and life at large.  I have wondered where, if at all, my voice would fit into this global conversation.  I follow blogs (more than I might admit to), and in so doing, I have been nothing if not reassured that those that capture the attention of a reader, of a lover of food in particular, lie in a most saturated corner of the blogosphere, laden with bloggers much more gifted, talented, knowledgeable and tech savvy than I.  In fact if we related blogging to the Olympics, these bloggers are on a virtual victory lap, followers aplenty, connected, networked, received, read and even published.

But as I was about to abandon my efforts, I was forced, yet again, by seven years of “mom-dom” to reconsider.  Actually I regard it as ten, but I say seven because I am not sure if mom years can count more than once even when you are rearing multiple offspring concurrently.  Either way I have learnt that children, specifically those born to you, annoyingly propel you to be a better version of yourself….all the time.  In this context, the better me needed to not be daunted by the shadows of giants with sharper knives, prettier spatulas and knowledgeable opinions.  Instead, the better me needed to blog my way out of the shadows, find my voice and speak. Each published post a quiet triumph against that uninvited question mark placed on my self-confidence.

I would hope then, that simply by doing this, I will encourage my children to step out of the shadows of the giants that will go before them.  I trust that they will stand boldly, faces towards the sun.  I hope they learn that in this world there is space for every voice and sun aplenty for every face, if you are courageous enough to look for it, daring enough to stand against the giants who would tell you otherwise.

Being in a slay-the-giants kind of a mood, I think it’s a perfect time to bake gorgeous pistachio and dark chocolate meringues.  (Perhaps the giant of desserts for some?)

What you need

4 egg whites
225g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup chopped pistachio nuts
100g dark chocolate, chopped

  1. Whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt in a clean bowl until soft peaks form.
  2. Very slowly whisk in one tablespoon of sugar at a time, giving each spoon time to be dissolved into the meringue.  When all the sugar is added, the mixture will be stiff and glossy.
  3. Using a spatula fold in the nuts and dark chocolate
  4. Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.  I don’t like too much fuss so I don’t pipe my meringues, but you are welcome to if you use a wide nozzle to stop the nuts and chocolate clogging.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 100 deg Celsius.  Your meringue must not colour and will come easily off the paper when dry, which will take about two hours.
  6. Turn your oven off, leave the meringues inside and remove when cool.

(Caution: when you open the oven the smell of these babies will tempt you to try one, and if you do that you might just eat them ALL)

Some notes on meringues:

  • Make your meringues when your egg whites are at room temperature.
  • Use a CLEAN glass bowl or a ceramic bowl; avoid plastic which can trap fat residue.
  • Fat is a no-no for meringues, if you get any egg yolk into your whites, they will not whip up.  I suggest you separate each egg over a separate bowl, and only add perfect white.  (You know, just in case your boy kiddo tackles you while you are busy and your fourth egg turns your perfect egg whites into a yolky mess – yip that has happened!)
  • You need to be sensible about your oven setting – this recipe says 100, because that is best on my oven, so if your oven runs hot, turn it lower.

This is such a great dessert, light and so so charming.  It might not be summer in the Boland yet, but there is no reason it cant be summer in your tummy!  I serve these meringues with homemade strawberry ice-cream, which I will post later in the summer.  But for now, if you buy your best ice-cream, soften it slightly and then refreeze in a thin tray, you will be able to cut out super cute ice cream hearts like those in the pic.

(For the pink meringues in the title photograph, I simply folded in a drop or two of pink gel coloring with a few drops of rose water into the basic meringue)

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