Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red Wine Italian Meringue Clouds with Sweet Strawberries

This might be a problem.

Last night when I was baking, I asked Jonathan to grab me a bag of sugar from the back room (the "cantina"). I had run out of my supply in the kitchen - no surprises there.

Turns out that it was my last bag in the back. Jon recalls that we bought at least 4 or 6 kilos last week. Yup. We did. And yup. It's all gone.

To think I go through a bag of sugar a week or more scares me a little bit. Mostly because all of the desserts that the sugar gets made into typically end up in my stomach.

Doctors would hate me. My mom's a nurse...but I think she's used to me.

Still not a single cavity though! Cool.

This light, gluten-free Springtime dessert certainly isn't shy about sugar. Not at all.

It uses 1 cup for the meringues alone. Hmm....it's fat-free though! Does that make up for it?

This is Italian Meringue, which is a meringue that is made from a boiled sugar syrup as opposed to regular granulated sugar like in French Meringue, making it very stable. The heat denatures or unfolds the bunched up proteins, which makes them more attracted to air so that they're more likely to form air bubbles. The sugar binds water in the egg whites to make sure they don't weep or separate. Smart stuff.

After making the meringue, I spooned it into a large piping bag fitted with a big star tip and piped it into little nests. First you make a circle to form the base, and then you go around twice to form the sides.

I like to make these meringue shells the Italian way, because it allows me to put red wine in it. Instead of adding water to the sugar to make the syrup, I add red wine. I couldn't do this if I was making meringue the French or the Swiss way. Italians know what they're doing.

I also bake these little cuties until they're just golden brown. This gives them a slight caramely flavour that tastes incredible with the red wine. It's like....red wine caramel.

Once they come out of the oven and dry out a bit, they're super crisp. Then, when you spoon the strawberries and their sauce over the shells just before serving, they begin to soften and turn into marshmallow.


Want to know something really great? These freeze well. So if you ever need something sweet in a pinch, let them defrost, fill them up with fresh fruit and......

BINGO! Presto chango! Voila! You have dessert.

I filled them with some gently stewed macerated strawberries. It's magic.

Welcome back Spring! We missed you...

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