I'll admit it: I can be quite stubborn sometimes. Some people say it’s because I’m a Scorpio and others will even call it “persistence”. What I know is that if something gets stuck in my head I won’t put it to rest until it’s done.
I was looking for a recipe with cinnamon - my favorite spice – and saw this. It was a huge coincidence, since there were 4 egg whites in the fridge. Off to the kitchen I went, excited about the beautiful dessert I was about to make.
It took me 3 times to get the meringues right – you know what they say about the third time, right? – and lots of eggs and brown sugar. After failing at the second attempt, it hit me: there was too much sugar for the amount of egg whites. It would never be firm. Finally, I made only ¼ of the recipe and added sugar to the egg whites my way. It worked. I shaped the meringues smaller than the original version – I used regular spoons for that; the recipe called for serving spoons – and reduced their time in the oven. On the following day, they were chewy and tasted good.
Would I go through all that trouble again for a dessert? Definitely. :)
I’m posting the adapted recipe - the one that worked out for me; follow the link mentioned above if you want to take a look at the original version.
Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream
adapted from Delicious magazine
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
100g light brown sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting
50g blanched, slivered almonds
50g granulated sugar
300ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 140ºC/285ºF. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Put the egg whites into a large, clean, grease-free bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Mix the sugar and cinnamon, then beat, a dessertspoonful at a time, into the whites until you have a stiff, glossy meringue.
Using 2 spoons, take a spoonful of the meringue onto 1 spoon. Holding the second spoon parallel to and behind it, scoop the mixture onto the second spoon by tucking its long edge under the back edge of the mixture on the front spoon. Do this 2-3 times until you have a smooth, rugby-ball shaped meringue. Transfer to one of the paper-lined trays. Repeat to make 12 meringues (in case you use large spoons to shape them) and transfer them one by one to the trays, leaving about 3-4cm between them. Bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours (I baked mine for 1 hour), then turn off the oven and leave them to cool inside for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the praline: preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºC. Spread the almonds over a baking sheet and roast for 6-7 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and set aside. Put the sugar into a small heavy-based pan and cook over a medium heat, without stirring – just swirl the pan around - until the sugar has caramelized and turned to an amber brown syrup. Add the almonds, swirl the pan to coat in the caramel, then quickly pour the mixture onto a lightly oiled baking tray and cool. Break into pieces when cold and transfer to a food processor. Process to fine crumbs using the pulse button, but don’t let the mixture become extremely fine.
To serve, whip the cream to soft peaks, then stir in the praline. Use to sandwich the meringues together. Lightly dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.