Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hazelnut and Cinnamon Meringues

Dear Readers THANK YOU for the phenomenal reading response to TSWCS 3.0! I do hope you all enjoyed the pictures and will come to The Jester Festival in 2013!

Now that summer has officially reached Britain, why not make some meringues - the oven temperature is low enough that it won't over-heat your house and meringues make the perfect long summer eve desert. 

These meringues are a little bit different - they're slightly more grown-up after dinner with a coffee and/or amaretto than the pistachio and vanilla ones, but well worth trying...

...the recipe comes from Ottolenghi and it is a fabulous one as the meringues turn out just as good as the  famous ones for sale in their shop. The perfect sticky and gooey meringue treat. 
The recipe follows the Swiss meringue method which involves melting 260g caster sugar and 140g dark brown muscavado sugar in 200g free range organic egg whites in a bain marie for about ten minutes. Please be warned that it looks pretty revolting (as you can see in this picture) but I promise you the end result is worth the moderate ugliness of the early stages. You should be pre-heating the oven to 110 degrees by the way!
 Once this is done, you can begin the whisking. As per my previous post on meringues do not believe the instruction that it is not possible to get high volume meringues without a free standing whisk! Mine are made using a very lo-fi hand held electric option and always come out ticketty-boo. After a minute of whisking, the mixture will look like the above pic.
 After four mins it should begin to change colour and look like the one above.
 By the time you have been whisking for eight minutes, it should be cool, super-glossy, a beautiful pale colour and hold it's shape as per the image below. (NB these photos were taken by me whilst I was in the process of whisking hence the not-so-brilliant quality. It was a challenging photographic experiment!)
 At this point, it all gets super-fun as you sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon over the mix and then VERY gently fold it in with a rubber spatula.
 Have 30g unskinned hazelnuts (roast them slightly and then rub the skins off in a tea-towel to get the best flavour) roughly chopped and ready and waiting along with two large baking trays lined with baking paper. Use two large metal spoons to scoop up a generous dollop of the meringue mix and then transfer to the baking tray before sprinkling over the hazelnuts. This is the most fun part of meringue-making - enjoy swirling the mixture onto the tray!
 They should look something like this as they go into the oven. Ensure they are well spaced out as they do puff up to a surprising extent.
Bake for between one and a quarter to two hours. It is hard to tell if they're done and it's important NOT to over-bake them so that you still have that chewy sticky gooey inner yumminess, but it IS very important that they are completely dry on the underneath and that should let you know when they're done. So I would say check after one and a quarter hours, but expect them to take about fifteen minutes longer after that. 
Et voila! Delicious Hazelnut and cinnamon meringues pretty and tasty enough to grace the cake stands of Whimsy! We completely under-priced our meringyues based on how expensive free range organic eggs cost but I think the people appreciated the Whimsenomical bargain they were getting and, indeed, these meringues were one of the first sell out products at TSWCS 3.0!
I am so excited about my next post featuring WHIMSY branded shortbread - you're going to love it!
Sugar and spacedust,
Whimsy x

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall 3.0

Dear Readers,
I have kept you waiting with baited breath for too-too long. And now it is finally time to reveal images of The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall 3.0. Yes! We had a full re-boot this year and TSWCS was the sparkliest bestest incarnation thus far!
 The main key to our success was the addition of the help (not just of strangers this year) of baker extraordinaire Miss F. The two of us together made Whimsy a force to be glittered with and both stall and customers went away with extra sparkle as a result.
 Pictured above are Miss F's epicurean white chocolate and raspberry slices and pictured below is the ubiquitous Silver Whimsy record player. (People have tried to purchase the record player EVERY single year, but it is amazing how cheap the people deem the price of a battery-operated Japanese import portable record player!!) Also, note the edible creations in the pretty polyphene - a new idea for 2012; Whimsy Cakes to take away and eat later!
 This image shows another of Miss F's inventions - Space Cakes! Popular with grown ups and children alike, these fairy cakes come to life in your mouth with the special ingredient of popping candy and a lollipop to eat as a post-cake snack!
 We had the most wonderful variety of cakes on offer and the people commented over and over again about how amazing it was to have such choice! I started making a Victoria Sponge but after the cakes were made, I felt the need to do something a little more interesting and came up with the Raspberry Cream Dream Cake (pictured below). Oh Readers, 'twas so delicious! Raspberry coloured and flavoured buttercream on the inside with freshly whipped cream with raspberries spun through it on the outside and vanilla sponge in the middle!
It was a wonderful day at the Jester Festival, West Hampstead's greatest local gathering, and we had an amazing, glittery day! The people love TSWCS and TSWCS loves the people! Roll on 2013!!
Recipes to follow,
Silver Whimsy x