Recipe meringues

Recipes for meringues with egg whites and sugar have been known for centuries, but the name meringue allegedly derives from the Swiss town Meiringen. In this town an Italian chef prepared the confection.According to a special edition of La Cucina Italiana on‘Dolci, torte & dessert’ from 2007, professionals distinguish between ‘Meringa italiana’ made with hot melted sugar and ‘Meringa francese’, where ordinary castor sugar is whipped with the egg whites.

I use the French version from a ‘let’s produce less dish washing’ point of view, and it works fine, as long as you remember to beat the egg whites soft to firm before adding the sugar. Otherwise the mixture will never get stiff.Another important rule for meringues making, which I failed to observe in this instance, is to let the cookies dry instead of baking them. As a result my meringues appear slightly tanned, while they should be white like a wedding dress. After all, the piercing sweetness of the meringue goes well with the grand romantic occasions – and an ordinary cup of coffee.

2 egg whites
100 g sugar

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Add sugar and continue beating the mixture, until the peaks are stiff and stays in the bowl even if it is turned upside down.
Spoon the egg whites and sugar into a pastry bag (a bag of plastic, where you cut a corner also serves the purpose).
Make small tops on a pre-greased baking sheet.
Leave the meringues to dry in the oven at 100 C (210 F) for about an hour until they are light and crisp.

If you like this meringues recipe you might also like these other Italian cookies:

Caramel puffs

Torta Sbrisolona – huge polenta biscuit from Mantova

Halloween cookies recipe from Italy

Recipe meringues

How to Make Ice Cream in a Nutshell

How to Make Ice Cream in a Nutshell 

Coupelle con gelato
Home-made shells of candied nuts taste great and look dazzling. But they do require quite a lot of practice before you can serve ice cream in a nutshell.

I had to try this recipe three times, before the result was passable, but friends offered to help eat the mishaps and the taste was more than okay. In other words, the effort was not wasted.

The problem with home-made shells of candied nuts is that they tend to disintegrate, when you try to mould them into shape. Therefore it is extremely important to let the cakes cool to just the right temperature, before placing them over the bottom of a glass. And therefore I cheated by adding a little more flour and a little less butter to the recipe, and by using pieces of non-grease oven-paper to keep to act together.

With these small adjustment and a leaf of lemon balm, the dessert was all dressed up and ready to party.

Ingredients for 8 shells
2 dl (160 g) of sugar
1 tbsp butter
100 g finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp double cream

Preheat oven to 200 C/390 F.
Leave the sugar to melt over low heat in a casserole. Add butter and make sure the mixture does not burn.
Remove the casserole from the heat and add cream, nuts and flour to make dough that is too firm to run.
Cut oven paper up in eight pieces of the four to an oven plate size. Place a spoonful of nut-dough on each piece and flatten it to a round wafer. (It will melt and spread further, when heated in the oven).
Bake the first four wafers in the oven for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
Place the wafers on a wire-rack to cool. In my kitchen it took exactly 3 minutes.
While it is still attached to the oven paper, place the wafers upside down over the bottom of a water glass. (It is an advantage to have more than two hands in this situation.) If the wafer has the right temperature and texture, it will slowly take shape after the glass. (If not, butter and nuts will float down and form an unshapely pile of crispy caramel on the table).
Repeat the process with the other four wafers.
Remove the oven paper when the shells have cooled completely.
Fill the baked nutshells with the best Italian, readymade ice cream you can find and serve with fruit and caramel or raspberry sauce.

Other great desserts apart from icecream in a nutshell 

Crostata di ricotta – Italian cheese cake

Caramel custard

Original Tiramisu recipe

Icecream in a nutshell

Panforte di Siena recipe

Panforte di Siena

Panforte di Siena is probably one of the oldest and best-known Italian Christmas treats, and it can easily be made at home and enjoed all year round.