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!
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. 🙂
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 “wet”, 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.
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.