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One of the problems fed by my penchant for making mayonnaise and ice cream is egg-white hoarding. This goes hand in hand with saving things like bacon grease (but wait, it makes the best fried chicken or mayo for BLTs, really!) and leftover risotto (but I could make some sort of arancini!) Obviously, a jar of egg whites often stares balefully at me from its assigned refrigerator shelf. In the winter, I use them to clarify stock, such a peaceful pastime looking through the peep hole in the egg white raft at the muddy stock made with dutifully frozen bones from forbidden veal chops, beef roasts and steaks. But standing over a 20-quart stockpot filled with several months of bones in this heat fails to inspire peaceful contemplation. Instead, I will work on improving my upper arm strength by whisking egg whites. Pictured here is the test I learned from Mary Bond: if an egg in the shell stands up in the whites, as shown here, you have reached the desired consistency.
I love making meringues, and I do it with mixed luck when the humidity hits tropical density. Sometimes, it works, and other times, well, it is best to view them as stand-alone meringue pie toppings aided by whipped cream and local fruits.
Egg Whites Recipes To The Rescue
But here are three happy hot weather salvation egg whites recipes! I generally follow the advice and nagging reminders about keeping egg whites from BBC Good Food (although my egg whites in a jar keep much longer than two days…more like 6-8 days):
Egg whites will keep in the fridge for up to two days, but they can also be frozen for up to three months. Put them into freezer bags or individual ice cube trays so you can use as many as you need. Label them carefully, noting the number of whites – once you’ve defrosted them they can’t go back into the freezer. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using.
A Macaron Meets A Cookie
The first recipe is a 1997 invention by French pastry chef François Payard when he opened his original patisserie in Manhattan. At one time Payard had three, and one of my favorite cookbook writers on baking, Joanne Chang earned her pastry stripes in his bakery kitchens. His shops are all closed now, victims most likely of poor financial backing and management. But it was a regular stop for Cuisinettes when we were at the Fancy Food Show in New York. Having no desire to compete with iconic American cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin, Payard based his signature cookie off a French macaron, so it is a light confection with a chewy middle and a thin, crisp outer shell that’s made from little more than egg whites, chopped walnuts and sugar. I found it in his book Chocolate Epiphany and the ease of making this delicious cookie has made it a favorite on numerous cooking sites.
- 9 oz or 272gr (2 3/4 cup) walnut halves
- 3 cups (350gr) confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (68gr) unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 3/4 teaspoon French Vanilla Essence
- Preheat the oven to 350F and position racks if necessary to accommodate more than one baking sheet.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or use Silpats. If you use parchment, dab a bit of the batter on the sheet so that it anchors the parchment paper.
- Spread the walnut halves on another baking sheet (or if it is Silpat lined - use one of the ones prepped for the cookies)
- Toast the walnuts 8-10 minutes - they should turn color a little and smell fragrant.
- Allow them to cool slightly and then transfer the nuts to a work surface and finely chop them.
- In a mixer bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the cocoa powder and salt.
- Whisk in the chopped walnuts and then add the egg whites and vanilla extract.
- Beat on medium until the batter is just mixed -overbeating will stiffen the mixture.
- Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets -about 1 1/2 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch.
- You may have to shift the pans around, front to back and top to bottem halfway through the baking time to get an even doneness on all of them.
- Slide the cookies off the parchment or Silpat onto cooling racks and allow them to cool before serving.
- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for about three days.
- I use Cocoa Barry Extra Brut Cocoa Powder. Buy a kilo bag; it is superior to any of the US brands and, like salt, it won't go stale if kept sealed in a cool dark area in your kitchen.
A Cake Meets A Meringue
Viennese Blueberry Slices are a specialty of the Cafe Diglas. which has four locations in Vienna, should you visit. It is one of many happy endings from an extraordinarily detailed book written by Rick Rodgers on Viennese, Hungarian and Czech pastries. If you are in love with the art of Austro-Hungarian baking, you need Kaffeehaus by your mixer. His technique and two recipes for Sacher Torte are spot on. He gives you the correct glaze; it just takes a little practice. After ghostwriting many cookbooks (but this one under his sole signature remains my favorite) he too has retired but is now offering Zoom classes on baking. I can hardly wait for his fall classes – Dobos Torte is calling me. But back to this glorious and easy Beerenschaumschnitten, which I have been making for at least a decade of summers.
The base cake is a treat to make and can be used for many other toppings. Currants are ideal, according to Rodgers – but since they are truly difficult to find (due to an outdated ban on growing them in the US), I have used raspberries or blackberries as equally tasty alternatives. I have made this meringue and berry-topped cake many times in 90+F weather, and it has never failed to delight.
- 1 1/3 cups(160gr) white all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons(7gr) baking powder
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 14 tablespoons (200gr) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 1 cup (230gr) white granulated sugar (I use India Tree Caster Sugar)
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Essence from Grasse)
- 2 tablespoons (3ml) fresh lemon juice
- grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons( 250gr) granulated sugar (I use India Tree Caster Sugar)
- 2 pints (640-650gr) fresh blueberries
- 3 tablespoons (24gr) confectioners' sugar (I use India Tree Fondant & Icing Sugar)
- Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat at 350F (175C)
- Lightly butter and flour a 13x9x2 inch (33x23x5cm) baking pan, tapping out excess flour.
- Stir the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- In a mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) beat the butter until it is smooth and light, and then add the sugar and beat further until it is light and fluffy - about 3 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.
- On low speed, in two additions, beat in the flour mixture and then the lemon juice and zest.
- Spread evenly in the pan and bake until the cake is golden and the top springs back when pressed in the center - about 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack while making the meringue.
- Increase oven temperature to 450F.
- Make the meringue topping by whisking the egg whites in a large bowl until they form soft peaks.
- Gradually beat in the granulated sugar until the whites are stiff and shiny.
- Toss the blueberries with the confectioners' sugar in another bowl
- Make sure the cake is completely cool in the pan and then spread the berries in a single layer over the cake.
- Spread the meringue over the cake and bake in the oven 3-5 minutes just until the tips of the meringue are lightly browned.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
- Cut into 12 rectangles with a sharp knife dipped in hot water and serve from the pan.
- I add a 1/4 teaspoon Blueberry Essence from Grasse if the blueberries lack flavor, unless I get the small blueberries from Maine.
- Ditto when I make this with raspberries.
- Both are available from Simply Gourmand.
A Friand Meets A Muffin
I have always wanted to be friends with muffins but I never buy them when given another choice at any travel terminal or highway stop. I have tried making them, and although almost anything is tasty hot out of the oven, muffins at room temperature rank just a bit above cold cereal for me. So I was surprised when I tried this recipe from The Last Course. We carried this dessert book by Claudia Fleming in the shop when it first was published in 2001 — at the request of a prominent chef in DC. He told me she was the pastry chef he dreamed of hiring. I can see why. She has a very particular style – a little savory along with the sweet, and her unusual desserts were one of the standouts at New York’s Gramercy Tavern. She left that life with her husband to run a farm-to-table restaurant in Southold, Long Island. And then her husband was diagnosed with ALS and she spent several years taking care of him until his death in 2015. She has since sold the restaurant and moved back to Manhattan. If you want to stretch your dessert repertoire in new but manageable directions, I could not recommend a better book. She adds just the right amount of cornmeal to an egg white-based cake batter, and these little blueberry cakes beat the hell out of any run-of-the-mill muffin.
- 1 cup (227gr) unsalted butter
- 2 2/3 cup (300gr) confectioners' sugar (I use India Tree)
- 1 cup (110gr) almond flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (80gr) cake flour
- 1/4 cup (40gr) coarse cornmeal
- 1 cup egg whites (about 8) 237ml
- Grated zest of one orange
- 1 cup (237ml) or 190g blueberries
- Preheat oven to 400F (205C) and butter and flour a 12 cup(US style) muffin pan.
- In a heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Continue to let the butter heat up until the milk solids stop bubbling and the butter has turned to a hazelnut brown
- Strain the butter through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and discard the solids.
- Sift together the confectioners' sugar, almond flour, cake flour and cornmeal.
- Place this mixture in your mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment.
- On the lowest speed, add the egg whites and zest, mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Increase the speed to medium low and stir in the browned butter.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the blueberries.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake 18-20 minutes.
- The cakes should be golden around the edges.
- Transfer to wire rack and cool completely before serving.
- You can make this batter up to 4 days ahead, cover and refrigerate.
- If you want to make "bite" sized versions use a buttered and floured mini muffin tin.
- Even my local blueberries sometimes are not that flavorful and I will add 1/4 teaspoon of Blueberry Essence from Grasse available online from Simply Gourmand.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.