Sunday, November 6, 2011

From two eggs

I had a barbecue to go to on Saturday evening, and decided that instead of bringing a salad - which was my first idea - it might be a good idea to take a dessert. Choosing citrus bavarian cream (p202) meant that I'd have a couple of egg whites left over. My knee-jerk response in this situation is to make meringues, but after a quick flick through the pastry chapter, I found another option: coconut macaroons, (p82) a recipe which conveniently requires two egg whites.

I decided to get the macaroons out of the way first. Taking out a sheet of flaky puff pastry, I cut out 6cm rounds and placed them in greased patty tins. Onto each pastry round I spooned a small amount of raspberry jam (the last of my home-made Edmonds raspberry! It's been so useful, I'll have to make some more!) before preparing the meringue topping.

I separated my eggs, setting the yolks aside for the bavarian cream. The whites I beat to soft peaks before folding in coconut, sugar and almond essence. I spooned the egg white mixture into the patty tins, and got them into the oven.

While the macaroons were cooking, I made a start on the bavarian cream, beating the yolks with sugar, and stirring in milk. This mixture I placed over a pot of water in 'double boiler' style, and stood stirring until the mixture thickened.

That was the plan, anyway. I'd hoped to have the custard mixture cooling in the fridge by the time the macaroons came out of the oven. As it happened, the macaroons took only about 20 minutes to cook, as opposed to the 35 indicated in the recipe, so I found myself simultaneously attempting to pry stuck-on macaroons out of patty tins with a spoon while at the same time keeping an eye on the custard.

It took a while to get the macaroons out, but the custard still hadn't thickened by the time I had finished. I stood stirring for a while longer before finally deciding it was probably about as thick as it was going to get. During this time, I'd also had some gelatine swelling in water on the bench. I placed this bowl over some hot water to dissolve the gelatine, then combined it with the custard mixture.

The custard mixture was in the fridge for around an hour before I considered it to have the desired 'egg-white consistency' and moved on to the next step. I beat some cream and added grated orange zest. then I added the custard mixture and folded it through. I was actually supposed to do this the other way around - folding the cream into the custard - but the cream was in a bigger bowl.

I poured the resulting creamy mixture into a serving bowl and put it into the fridge to set, crossing my fingers that it would work ok. Meanwhile, I cut up the oranges I'd used for zest into segments. A few hours later, when the bavarian cream was looking a bit more solid, I used the orange segments to decorate the top.

My desserts went down very well with those assembled for the barbecue. Despite eating largely from the usual surfeit of food that attends these occasions, everyone still had room for a bit of citrus bavarian cream and a macaroon, before we headed down to the beach to watch the fireworks.

The macaroons were an undoubted success. They're very light, but have a surprising sort of chewyness which is very appealing, and the fruity jam keeps the coconut meringue from being too sickly. These are well worth the minimal effort of making them, and I'll definitely be making more next time I have some excess egg whites. Just make sure you grease those patty tins thoroughly, because the only difficulty with making these is getting them out of the tin!

I was less satisfied with my citrus bavarian cream. It tasted nice - sort of creamy and orangey, as you would expect - but the custard and the cream had not combined properly. Mostly, the custard had settled to the bottom of the dish, meaning you get a mouthful of orange-flavoured cream with the odd lump of custard in it. Taste-wise, it was ok, but texturally, not awesome. Perhaps I should have been more patient at the double-boiler stage.

I doubt anyone but myself had any complaints about the bavarian cream though - both desserts seemed to be enjoyed by all - and that's all that matters!


  1. Hey Robs wonder if your muffin liners would work for the macaroons?c

  2. I was thinking that myself - there's only one way to find out!


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