Wednesday, 12 September 2012

orange meringue bites

On my weekly food shop this week I felt in need of something a little citrusy to inspire my baking. These little bitesized wonders came to mind as the perfect miniature treats to bake this week. I have made them before using lemon which I loved, but wanted to try adapting the flavours slightly, so decided to use orange this time instead. 

I know I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: Eggs are brilliant. What other food can you crack open, separate and use both elements to create delicious treats? I love that with this recipe, the egg yolks don't go to waste as you use them to make the orange curd. 
Now, for all of the brilliant things about meringue, there is the slight downfall of the time factor. No matter how tiny the meringues, they need a lot of time to bake and dry out. If time is on your side, I recommend making these as a sweet treat to share with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and anyone else who needs a bit of light sweetness in their mouth. 
{the little black specks you can see on the meringue are vanilla seeds, nothing suspicious!}
There is something wonderfully satisfying about popping a star shaped nozzle into a piping bag, loading it up with super shiny meringue then piping away to your heart's content. 

Orange Meringue Cookies
ingredients
2 large egg whites
130g caster sugar
pinch salt
1 vanilla pod / 1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange

To make the meringue:
1) Line 2 large baking trays with parchment, or foil if you have run out of parchment (no need to grease). Preheat the oven to 90C / 200F.
2) Separate the eggs, placing the egg yolks into a medium sized saucepan, ready for making the curd. Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl / bowl of freestanding mixer.
3) Whisk the egg whites until they are white and frothy.
4) Gradually add the sugar and a pinch of salt, whisking continually / after each addition.
5) Continue to whisk until the meringue is thick, brilliantly glossy and looking like melted marshmallow.
6) Fold in the orange zest and vanilla seeds / extract.
7) Fill a piping bag, fitted with a star shaped nozzle, with meringue and pipe a small quantity of meringue onto a baking tray, lined with parchment. Repeat until all of the meringue is used up.
8) Flatten half of the swirls with the back of a teaspoon - you'll use these as the base of the cookies so they need to be flat for sandwiching together, even though it feels sad and brutal to flatten their beautiful peaks.
9) Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours turn the oven off and leave meringues inside to cool and become crisp, preferably overnight, but at least for a few hours.
10) Make the curd, then when the meringues are ready, put a little dollop of the chilled curd onto one of the flattened meringues and top with another meringue that has retained its beautiful peak. Continue until they're all ready, then consume!

For the Orange Curd: ingredients
70g / 6 tbsp butter
125g / half a cup of caster sugar
125ml / half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (approx. 1.5 medium sized oranges)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1) Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened but isn't boiling.
2) Pour the curd through a sieve over a bowl to strain out any pieces of egg that have cooked in the heating process.
3) Transfer into a glass jar and chill in the fridge until needed.

Baking Notes: These turned out beautifully, but I think lemon is a more effective flavour. The orange curd didn't have enough tang for my taste, but they were still a great little treat.

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