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Posts tagged ‘meringues’

Courtesy cupcakes and well-mannered meringue.

I often think about how I would act in front of the Queen of England.

The term “lady-like” does not come to mind when I think of myself — I hate sitting with my ankles crossed. It’s not natural! Or curtsying? Yikes…I don’t know about that one either — I don’t think I’m coordinated enough to lightly shake her fragile hand and do a half-pliet at the same time. Also, what the heck do you talk to her about? Do you talk to her at all? Am I supposed to dance for her? Make balloon animals? Perform my rendition of Broadway’s “Cats”? That’s a lot of pressure. She might prefer The Lion King…

In my fantasy world, the Queen and I would be sitting in two giant comfy chairs in her extravagant living room, where there is a faint background hum of subtle classical music. While she tells me story after story of her past romantic affairs that no one knows about, we sip tea and coffee out of tiny delicate gold-trimmed cups that sit beside some scones that I made for her. She loves them. She ate six. It turns out that she finds me so charming and charismatic that she wants me to move to England for the sole purpose of our weekly afternoon gossip sessions. I do this. Life is cool.

Sounds reasonable. I’m sure this happens. It’s…casual.

I’ve made a list. A list of behavioral faux pas I’ve observed over the past few weeks. Imagine if we all had the courtesy and politeness required when interacting with Her Majesty?

Okay, I agree, that’d be a bit much, and pretty boring, but really all I’m talking about is common courtesy, people. Basic manners. Simple things that seem like common sense, but for some reason, I’ve noticed that apparently, they’re not. Taking a general interest in someone’s life, when they are constantly interested in yours, is common courtesy. Smiling when you see someone instead of frowning or having a scowling look…common courtesy. Asking how someone’s day was…common courtesy!

THINGS YOU SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT DO WHEN YOU ARE A FUNCTIONAL MEMBER OF SOCIETY

1. Saying “hello” to the person behind the counter before starting to speak – GOOD

2. Not reciprocating a “How are you” question – BAD

3. Holding the door open for someone, even if its your dog (especially if its your dog) – GOOD

4. Holding the door open for someone, only to let go at the last possible second to make it completely awkward and unmanageable for the person about to walk through, resulting in pain. – BAD (was that too specific?)

5. Remembering names – GOOD

6. Forgetting names – BAD

7. Using “please” and “thank you” on a regular basis – VERY GOOD

8. Interrupting someone when they talk – VERY BAD

9. Asking how someone’s day was – GOOD

10. Chewing with your mouth closed – GOOD

11. Batting someone’s face when they’re sleeping – BAD (I think it might just be Kitten that does this, but if you do it…stop it. Weirdo.)

12. Complimenting someone – GOOD

13. Telling someone they look like Jane of the Jungle because they’re having an “off” hair day – BAD

14. Giving (welcomed) hugs – GOOD

15. Answering phone calls or texts in the middle of a deep face-to-face conversation – BAD

16. Referring to someone’s hobby as “stupid” to their face – VERY BAD

17. Asking about someone’s hobby because you really care – VERY GOOD

18. Baking lemon cupcakes – GOOD

19. Pairing the cupcakes with a blueberry compote – GREAT

20. Topping the cupcakes with an airy meringue – EXCELLENT!

There are a lot more where that came from. But these are truths. Necessary truths. Specifically the last three…and number seven. And eleven…

These cupcakes came together better than I imagined. I got home from work, took off my blazer, and got to baking. There was no recipe written down anywhere, and I never even tried to look up suggestions on how to make a perfect compote. I simply looked at the recipe for my mom’s favorite lemon cookies and made it into a super moist, fresh, lemon cake. The flavor is perfect. The texture? Lighter than freaking air.

Mama was happy. And we all know that when Mama is happy…say it with me…everyone is happy!

I topped it with a perfectly sweetened blueberry compote, and whipped up some meringue. And as you can see, I had a little bit of pyro fun with a small torch. ūüôā

The Event Blossom theme this week is Something Blue. Adorable! These cupcakes with the blue wrappers are a perfect pair for a summer engagement party. Make sure to take a peek at what Kim did with this kit on her blog!

Perhaps the Queen might enjoy them too…I’ll consider making them for her for next week’s afternoon tea.

Now, please, try these cupcakes.

Come on…I said please!

Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Compote and Meringue

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup non-fat half and half
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1 tbsp lemon zest
juice of two fresh lemons

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pan with papers.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and pale.

4. Add eggs, beat well on high.

5. Add vanilla, beat well.

6. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat for about 30 seconds.

7. Add half and half, lemon juice, and zest until evenly distributed. Do not over mix.

8. Fill cups 1/2 full and bake for 18 minutes.

Note: These rise a LOT. I was not expecting this. So you’ll notice that this says to fill the cups 1/2 full instead of 3/4 full. There’s a reason for that. Do as I say. (Please..)

Blueberry Compote

2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp water

1. Simmer all ingredients in a small saucepan for about 8 minutes. The blueberries should start to pop and the mixture will begin to thicken. Stir occasionally.

2. Remove from heat and let cool. If it is not thick enough, add 1 tbsp corn starch and place back on the heat for another couple of minutes. Let cool completely before using on cupcakes.

Meringue

6 egg whites
5 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

1. Beat egg whites until frothy.

2. Add sugar until stiff peaks form.

3. Add vanilla, continue to beat on high.

4. To test if the meringue is ready, you should be able to hold the bowl upside-down for 30 seconds. Yes, 30 nerve-racking seconds.

Bon appétit!

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Unbaked but not unforgiven

Picture this:

It’s Monday morning. ¬†My day off welcomes me with open arms. ¬†I’ve got music playing in the background as I lazily flip through a magazine. ¬†To my left, Kitten lays in the sun and watches the birds. ¬†To my right, a cup of coffee is in my favorite Starbucks mug, and a small plate with a piece of moist, sweet, scrumptious coffee cake awaits its delectable fate of consumption.

Man, that sounds awesome.

It would have been awesome.

But in order for my Monday morning to turn out like that, my Sunday morning needed to go better than it did. ¬†Obviously I’m talking about the coffee cake. ¬†And obviously I had a bit of a baking disaster.

Oh, you want to hear about it?  Fiiiine, fine.

I wanted coffee cake. ¬†Badly. It was just one of those things that popped into my mind, and I couldn’t get rid of the craving. ¬†The ingredients were simple, the recipe was simple. ¬†I was happy. ¬†For a little while…

The baking process did not go well. ¬†Here’s where the story goes awry. ¬†It baked for an hour, and what happened? ¬†The outsides baked PERFECTLY – ¬†moist, tasty and so good. ¬†The top was crumbly and delicious. ¬†I cut into it and BAM. Liquid.

I was a sad, discouraged baker.  If I put it  back in the oven the outside would have burned.  So, so sad.  No coffee cake.  No perfect Monday morning.  Good-bye hopes and dreams!!!!!!!!!

Okay so it wasn’t quite that horrible of a scenario. ¬†But I was pretty upset. ¬†Why? ¬†This is why!

Not. Okay.

In an effort to bring myself out of this baking funk, I decided to make something else. ¬†Something that didn’t involve coffee or cake. ¬†The wound was too fresh.

Nutella Meringues anyone?  Yes please.

Now I’m not the biggest meringue fan, but it seemed interesting and I needed a challenge that would make me feel like a baker again. ¬†It was risky though, because meringues are not the easiest thing to make. ¬†In retrospect, if I wanted to feel back to normal I should have just made chocolate chip cookies. ¬†But I’m stubborn and usually do things the hard way. ¬†It is what it is.

These came surprisingly easy to me. ¬†They turned out great, and as a result my baking mojo was back! ¬†I was asked the same exact question by several people. ¬†“How the hell can you make meringues but mess up coffee cake?” ¬†I do not know the answer to this question.

So here’s the recipe for the meringues that I got from Cream Puffs In Venice, a blog you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet. She makes the coolest, and best-looking food. ¬†I followed the recipe exactly, so there aren’t even any comments from the peanut gallery. ¬†ūüôā

Nutella Meringues

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
1/4 cup Nutella

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Make sure you have one oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and one in the upper third of your oven.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

3. Set up a double boiler (a pot with another pot on top or a heat-proof bowl on top) and put the Nutella in the top of the double boiler. Warm the Nutella through and then set aside while you make the meringue. (You could warm the Nutella in a microwave but I don’t own one so you’re on your own if you do use one.) Let the Nutella cool as you make the meringue.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites. Beat on medium-high speed until they are completely foamy.

5. Add the cream of tartar and the salt and continue whipping at medium-high speed until when you lift the whisk attachment, soft peaks form. This should take a few minutes.

6. Once you have reached the soft peak stage, increase the speed to high and begin adding the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time (this should take a few minutes).

7. Once all the sugar is in, the meringue should be very thick (almost stiff) and when you left the whisk firm peaks should remain.

8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and drop in all the Nutella. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the Nutella into the meringue three or four times. You’re aiming for a swirled effect so don’t overmix. This will also help avoid deflating the meringue.

9. Using two spoons, drop the meringue onto the parchment-lined baking sheets in large dollops.

10. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, immediately lower the heat to 200 degrees F. and rotate the trays. Bake for an hour.

11. After an hour, check the meringues. If they are completely dried out then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours to cool with the oven. If the meringues still look a bit ‚Äúwet‚ÄĚ, then continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. Either way, once fully baked, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there for a few hours.

When you remove the meringues from the oven they should be completely dry and cool and will sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.

See?  Pretty!

As for you, coffee cake. ¬†We will meet again, you will bake all the way through,¬†you will be delicious, and you will give me my perfect Monday morning. ¬†That’s right, this baker is taking charge and gettin’ bossy.