Sunday, February 08, 2009

Meringue Moments with Martha

Okay, here's a little warning. I've decided to play the Martha card once or twice a month. This might be a major blogging faux pas, using someone else's genius to create a personal post... is it? I don't know, I will give credit to whom it is due of course! The thing is, I never said this blog would be filled with fabulous things entirely crafted or photographed by me. I'm just here to pass these 'fabulousities' on to you! These photos and the italicized text below are all from an article titled Light as Air in the January 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

(Light as Air article)

I've had a love affair with the dessert spreads in Martha's magazine for years now. We go way back. Side note: isn't it funny that all I have to write is simply Martha and we all know exactly who I'm referring to. Right? It's like God, or Oprah... One name is all it takes. Anyway, as I was saying, Martha's team knows how to style some mighty gorgeous food shots. I'm a dessert lover and crafter and few sources inspire me as much as these monthly articles in Martha Stewart Living. I'm sure many of you see her magazine on a monthly basis, but for those of you who happen to miss it, I feel obligated to bring this to you and make it a part of my blog. I have a feeling they will become the post you most look forward to seeing. Sure, I could make some of these recipes and take pictures of my results, but they would never look as perfect as this. And since I'm such a perfectionist, I can't resist just using these.

(Pineapple Dacquoise with Layers of Silken Buttercream, Caramelized Pineapple, and Crisp Praline)

I became a little more acquainted with meringue last summer when I began playing around with pavlovas. I'd always thought that I hated meringue for some reason unbeknownst to me consequently have always stayed away from recipes containing these innocent whites and refined sugar. But now, oh now, I'm way into meringue. How could I not have been for so long? Meringue is quite possibly the most angelic of all confections. It is light as air and so pure in it's beauty. I love that you can transform it into quite a number of lovely poses. I know that you are going to swoon over all of this the way I have. My hope is that you are inspired to try some of these at home. The Floating Islands are first on my list.

(Floating Islands with Ricotta Cream and Apricots poached in Vanilla-Bean Syrup)

A true wonder of the culinary world, meringue is essentially just egg whites and sugar, ingredients that undergo a miraculous transformation when infused with air.
The result is a floating, billowing affair that tops lemon meringue pies, insulates the chilly interiors of baked Alaskas, makes buttercreams and macaroons possible, and serves as muse for countless other lofty creations.

(French Macaroons)

Although the basic recipe has changed little in the 400 years or so since these humble components first came together, it has been refined in three slightly different ways to create French, Swiss, and Italian interpretations. Meringue's many incarnations, however, have evolved considerably, occupying an array of contrasts and forms. They can be meltingly soft, airy, and nonconformist, or precise and architectural with interiors ranging from surprisingly crisp to seductively chewy.

(Chocolate Pavlova cradling Dark-Chocolate Cream, Gently Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Shavings)

Multitiered dacquoise holds its own at the most elegant black-tie event, and rustic pavlovas feel at home with weeknight suppers. A fancifully frosted cake embodies structured formality; floating islands embrace a loosey-goosey, devil-may-care quality. Souffles are hot; baked Alaskas are cold. Some meringues are towering; others diminutive. There are the snow white and the colored, the plain and the flavored. They are all delicious.

(Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a Spectrum of Pastel Hues)

(Baked Alaskas concealing Classic Neapolitan Flavors)

Mastering the skills for making meringue may take the finessing that comes only with experience -- facilitated by the foolproof methods illustrated on these pages. The truly difficult part lies in deciding which possibility to pursue. But then, practice makes perfect.

(Lemon Meringue Semifreddi with Toasty Spiral Tops)

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