Photo by Michele Simons
The Artful Oven
Surprised and delighted: these were the principal reactions to this meringue/cookie/ice cream treat. Milagritos, for example: she "didn't want to like them." "Too sugary, too eggy, too creamy, just too much." But this anticipation turned out not to be true. The kids liked them, and the adults stole bites from the kids. Not to blame the adults, though, as Milagritos says, after all, they were "terribly moreish."
And Mendy, whose meringues turned out crispy and almost paper-thin, thought they were "more delicious than I expected them to be. A real treat." Although most of the kids "slurped out the ice cream," leaving the nutty meringues behind, Shayna declared them "awesom-azing!"
Faithy was so unsure of this recipe that she made only half, and made her own rum-raisin ice cream so that there would at least be ice cream if the meringues didn't turn out. Not surprisingly (to me, anyhow because I've watched Faithy turn out many masterpieces over the years), they were both highly successful. Though the cookies turned out too puffy to make sandwiches, she simply turned them into "mini-Pavlovas," with the ice cream on the bottom and the meringue perched jauntily atop. "The crisp, light and airy texture pairs so well with ice cream. Loving it."
Ever the practical baker, Vicki was surprised at how easy these were to make. She cleverly brought out the English Muffin rings she used for the Kouign Amanns, and tried the meringues both ringed and free-form. As someone who's not crazy about meringues, she might have been surprised at how much she liked these (Dulce de leche, coffee, and vanilla ice cream--she tried, and liked, them all), except that she'd already been surprised at becoming a meringue lover when she tried Dattelkonfekts. Just one suggestion for Rose: how about a chocolate meringue?
Tony was not much of a meringue person either, because he usually finds them to be "cloyingly hyper-sweet products," or CH SP, in Tony-lingo. Oddly, it's the brown sugar (ordinarily thought to be sweeter than white sugar) that brought them "just to the edge of sweetness." Tony's cookies sort of decorated themselves, as he piped leftover chocolate ganache along the naturally-occurring cracks formed on the tops of the cookies.
Speaking of naturally-occurring, Jeniffer reminded us that these cookies are naturally gluten-free--no gluten substitutes required. Jeniffer also included a list of possible meringue/ice cream combos, some of which would never have occurred to me, but all of which sound delightful: "Think of pairing ... with salted caramel ice cream, bourbon banana for a banana foster ice cream sandwich, chocolate (of course), burnt caramel fig ice cream, coffee (not the sweet Vietnamese coffee type, but rather an Italian espresso type to counter cookie sweetness) or just a scoop of classic vanilla."
Kristina was also surprised at how easy these were--so much so that she forgot to take photos of the process. And stunned that so much deliciousness could come from just four ingredients: egg whites, sugar, pecans, and ice cream. She planned to "stash them in her freezer" for her birthday barbecue dessert, but she and Jay sampled preview ice cream meringues made with French vanilla ice cream: clearly the best choice, said Jay, whose choice it was.
The recipe was full of surprises for Kim, beginning with the meringue itself: who would have thought that "adding all that sugar to unwhipped egg whites would give me a thick foam?" But it did. And the deliciousness of her homemade vanilla ice cream with "lots and lots" of egg yolks (great way to make the yolks and whites come out even) contrasted beautifully "with the chewy texture and soft bite of the pecan meringue." I can almost taste it.
These meringues weren't really a surprise to Orin because she had the opportunity to taste them when Rose and Woody came to Texas for a demonstration and book-signing event. They served the cookies with Woody's favorite, dulce de leche ice cream. Orin served them with caramel macchiato gelato (which sounds pretty wonderful all by itself). Orin froze muffin-papered amounts of gelato, ready to sandwich in the sandwiches, so her version looks neat and inviting. "The absolute upgraded version" of ice cream sandwiches, said one taster.
No surprises for Michele either, but plenty of delights. She knew when she started this baking project that she would "quickly deplete her supply of superlatives," and sure enough, after tasting these meringues, she was "bereft of a word to describe these delights." She filled them with vanilla ice cream AND drizzled them with Rose's Special Blend Ganache. By the time she finished, she was "drooling to taste them." Sometimes a little drooling is a good thing.
Jen actually had high expectations (remember the Dattelkonfekt!), which were almost, but not quite, met. First, she wished the pecans would have been a little toastier. Second, although she thought coffee ice cream was a great flavor match, she found the meringues too crumbly to be wholly successful as a base for an ice cream sandwich. Interestingly, Jen liked the addition of muscovado sugar, which brought "an almost boozy note to the meringues." Booze without booze...some might say "what's the point?" But others might say, "great to know about." I say, when you're feeding toddlers, it's nice to have something that tastes sophisticated but isn't verboten for two-year-olds.
Patricia preferred the ice cream sandwiches filled with coffee ice cream to those filled with vanilla, but she surprised herself by liking the sandwiches best when they weren't sandwiched, because "the cookies are utterly amazing all by themselves." Not the most attractive ice creamy thing, but "you'll be won over by the flavor." And flavor is what it's all about, isn't it?
It sounds like next week's project--the Fourth of July Cheesecake--will have plenty of flavor, with the red velvet cake base, the classic Rose cheesecake filling, a cream cheese icing layer, topped with blueberries. If you made the red velvet cake a few weeks ago, you'll know how to put it together. The other layers don't look difficult, but any time there are four or five components, it's going to take some time, so plan ahead. Even if you don't celebrate American Independence Day, everyone has a 4th of July, and who can resist a cheesecake?